Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Technical Evaluation
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: In reviewing protests against allegedly improper evaluations, GAO examines the record to determine whether the agency’s judgment was reasonable and in accord with the evaluation factors set forth in the RFP.
SHG National, LLC, (SHG) protests the award of a contract under a request for proposals (RFP), issued by the Department of the Army, for lodging, meals, and transportation services.
The RFP provided for the award of a fixed-price requirements contract. A detailed performance work statement (PWS) was provided, describing the contract requirements. Offerors were informed that the agency estimated that an average of 53, and a maximum of 165, applicants would require daily meals, lodging and transportation services. In this regard, the PWS advised offerors that the actual number of applicants might exceed the agency’s estimates and that the contractor was responsible for ensuring that a sufficient number of rooms were available to fulfill the daily requirements of the contract. The RFP provided that award would be made on a best value basis considering the following factors: mission capability, past performance, and price. Offerors were advised that the agency would conduct an on-site evaluation, and that past performance would be separately evaluated and assessed a performance risk rating.
With regard to the mission capability factor, the RFP provided that the agency would assess the following elements: sanitation/cleanliness/condition/quality control; security and safety; meals; and facility location. Proposal preparation instructions were provided for each of these evaluation elements. For example, regarding sanitation- cleanliness-condition-quality control, the RFP advised offerors that the agency would evaluate all aspects of their proposed hotel and instructed offerors to provide the total number of rooms, describe their dining facilities, and make all areas available for inspection.
The awardee received a higher rating under the mission capability factor and reflected the SSEB’s assessment that the awardee’s proposal presented nine strengths, three of which were significant, and one weakness under that factor.
SHG complains that its proposal should have been rated excellent under the mission capability factor and contends that the agency used unstated evaluation criteria. The protester argues that its proposal met, or exceeded, the RFP’s minimum requirements for the number of hotel rooms, kitchens, security, lobby, and check-in areas. SHG also maintains that the agency evaluated proposals unequally by overvaluing features of the awardee’s proposed hotel but undervaluing similar features of SHG’s proposed hotel.
GAO states that in reviewing protests against allegedly improper evaluations, GAO examines the record to determine whether the agency’s judgment was reasonable and in accord with the evaluation factors set forth in the RFP, and whether the agency treated offerors equally in evaluating their respective proposals. While GAO has recognized that such judgments are often subjective by nature, the exercise of these judgments in the evaluation of proposals must be documented in sufficient detail to show that they are not arbitrary. Where a protester challenges the agency’s evaluation and source selection, GAO will review the evaluation and award decision to determine if they were reasonable, consistent with the solicitation’s evaluation scheme, as well as procurement statutes and regulations, and adequately documented.
GAO finds, based on a review of the record, that the agency’s well-documented evaluation of SHG’s proposal was reasonable and consistent with the RFP’s stated evaluation criteria. The record shows that the agency found, and extensively documented, numerous qualitative differences in this regard between the protester’s and the awardee’s proposed hotels. The record does not support the protester’s assertion that the agency evaluated proposal disparately or used undisclosed evaluation criteria. The protest is denied.