Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Federal Highway Administration
Disposition: Request denied in part, granted in part.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
GAO denied in part and granted in part Sevatec’s request for reimbursement of costs that it incurred in filing and pursuing its protest challenging the award of a contract to Tantus Technologies, Inc., by the Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), for information technology services.
The procurement was a 100% set-aside for section 8(a) small businesses. The RFP contemplated award of an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract, for a base year with four option years. The four factors to be considered included: technical/management approach; staffing/experience; past performance; and price/cost. The RFP also included labor categories that set forth duties and experience and education for each category. Offerors were required to submit a resume for each position. Tantus’s proposal received a higher score than Sevatec’s.
Sevatec filed a protest challenging the agency’s evaluation and best value determination, arguing that Tantus engaged in an improper “bait and switch” regarding its proposal personnel, including a plan to use Sevatec personnel without furnishing resumes. After the agency was advised in an ADR conference call, that the protest would likely be sustained, the agency determined it would take corrective action. Sevatec then submitted a request for reimbursement of costs.
GAO found that Sevatec’s protest included issues for which the recovery of protest costs is appropriate. Specifically, these included the agency’s failure to adequately evaluate the Sevatec and Tantus staffing proposals and the technical evaluation issues involving training plans, invitational travel, and management of a SharePoint site. However, none of the other protest allegations raised by Sevatec meet the standard for recommending recovery of protest costs. In this regard, as expressed by the GAO attorney in the ADR conference, nothing in the record indicated that there was any merit to Sevatec’s allegations concerning bait and switch, flaws in Sevatec’s past performance evaluation, or Tantus’s alleged violation of the subcontract limitation.