Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Short & Associates
Agency: Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration
Disposition: Protest Denied.
- Agency’s use of price evaluation formula, which assigned different weights to labor rates based on historical usage of labor categories, was consistent with terms of the solicitation which provided that price would be evaluated by applying estimated quantities of use to offerors’ proposed labor rates.
- Protest of past performance evaluation is denied where record shows evaluation was reasonable and consistent with solicitation terms.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Short & Associates protested the award to Innovim LLC and Syneren Technologies Corporation of contracts for technical support services. The RFP contemplated award of multiple ID/IQ contracts on a best value basis, with non-price factors combined being approximately equal to price. The agency calculated evaluated prices for each offeror using a weighted formula based on historical data reflecting prior use of the 169 labor categories for similar work. The SSEB ranked offerors after completing the price evaluation, with Short & Associates being ranked fourth. The SSO made award to the top two firms, having determined that the price premium associated with Short & Associates’ higher-priced proposal did not offer any additional capability or value not already provided by the two lower-priced proposals.
The GAO disagreed with Short & Associates that the agency’s weighting formula was inconsistent with the RFP’s general provision that estimated quantities of use would be applied to labor-hour rates. It noted that the protestor’s suggestion that the weighting formula did not adequately take into account the estimated usage of the labor categories provided no basis to sustain the protest. The GAO then found no basis to question the reasonableness of the satisfactory past performance rating assigned to Short & Associates’ proposal, pointing out the agency noted that no reference identified specific instances of the protestor exceeding contractual requirements.
Although a disappointed offeror may disagree with the pricing methodology employed by the agency in evaluating proposals, the offeror must show that the methodology was inconsistent with the terms of the solicitation in order for its protest to be sustained. When deciding whether to pursue a bid protest, disappointed offerors should carefully consider whether they merely disagree with the agency’s evaluation and its award decision, or whether there appear to be improprieties in the procurement which support pursuing a protest.