Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Serco Inc.
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest Denied.
1. For purpose of determining GAO jurisdiction over challenge to award of task order, value of option to extend services under clause at Federal Acquisition Regulation § 52.217-8 is included in task order value where value of option was included in total price that agency considered in its task order award determination and where value that offeror may be compensated if option is exercised is evident from task order.
2. Protest that deficiency assigned to protester’s proposal for lack of defined support for program support requirements was unreasonable because protester’s proposal identified personnel responsible for program support requirements is denied where solicitation instructed offerors to provide level of effort needed to meet solicitation requirements and record reflects that protester’s proposal did not specify level of effort for program support requirements.
3. Protest that agency unequally treated protester and awardee by seeking clarification from awardee but not protester is denied because agencies may seek clarification from one offeror and not another and because record reflects that agency concern regarding protester’s proposal could not have been addressed without material revision to proposal.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Serco Inc. protested the issuance of a task order to Strategic Resources, Inc. (SRI) for services to support the agency’s exceptional family member program (EFMP). Serco argued that the agency improperly assigned it a deficiency due to its proposed staffing approach simply because it did not charge the agency the costs for its staff as full-time equivalents. It also argued that the agency treated Serco unequally in relation to SRI in several respects.
The GAO first established that it had jurisdiction to consider the protest, finding that option pricing is appropriately included in the measure of the task order’s value for jurisdiction purposes if the level of compensation an offeror may receive if options are exercised is evident from the task order. It then upheld the agency’s determination that Serco’s proposal was deficient because, although it named the specific individuals who would be fulfilling particular requirements, the proposal failed to provide the level of effort that these individuals would perform, as required by the RFP. The GAO also disagreed with Serco’s assertion that the agency improperly engaged in discussions with SRI but not Serco, finding the agency’s interactions with SRI to be clarifications, not discussions requiring communications with all offerors.
Offerors must adhere to the requirements of an RFP, providing all relevant information and completing any price proposal pricing tables requested by the agency. Even if an offeror intends not to “charge” for certain labor, anticipated labor hours should still be provided to prevent the assessment of a deficiency. Agencies are not required to adapt their evaluation to comply with an offeror’s submission, and thus failure to adequately explain the reasoning behind certain proposals, particularly where it deviates from other offerors’, may result in an offer being deemed unacceptable.