Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest denied.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
GAO denied the protest of Silverback7, Inc., based on the issuance of a task order to Pluribus International Corporation, by the Department of the Army, Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) under a request for task order proposals (RFTOP) for non-personal services to provide program and resource management support.
The solicitation was issued to holders of OMNIBUS III Service Area 1 multiple-award indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts, and anticipated the issuance of a fixed-price task order for a base year and two one-year options. The RFTOP sought non-personal services subject matter experts to provide senior technical support to INSCOM headquarters and subordinate organizations. The RFTOP stated that the task order would be issued on a best value basis considering: management approach; corporate experience; staffing approach; past performance; and price.
Silverback7 argued that the agency’s evaluation of the technical proposals was unreasonable. First, GAO found the agency’s evaluation of the management approach subfactor reasonable where although Silverback7 disagreed with the agency’s conclusions, it provided no basis to conclude they were unreasonable. Silverback7 argued that the agency failed to consider a key component in its approach, but the agency did consider it and found that it would not significantly increase the quality of service.
As for the staffing approach subfactor, Silverback7 argued that it should have received a strength where it provided qualified and trained personnel on the first day after contract award. The agency explained, however, that it did not find that this approach also merited a strength under the staffing factor because it did not demonstrate particular merit with regard to the specific criteria for the factor, that is, special adaptability, flexibility, hiring or retention techniques. Based upon a review of the record, GAO found nothing unreasonable about the agency’s evaluation.
For the corporate experience, Silverback7 argued that the agency’s assignment of a weakness for Silverback7’s reference to security and intelligence activities funding was unreasonable. Silverback7 also argued that the agency’s conclusion that Pluribus’ proposal warranted an outstanding rating was improper since Silverback7, the incumbent, necessarily proposed corporate experience of the same or similar scope and should be rated equal to or higher than Pluribus. The agency stated that Silverback7 received a weakness because of its use of the term S&IA where INSCOM’s funding associated with S&IA was replaced with something else rendering the term obsolete.
GAO stated that it did not agree with the protester, and that Silverback7’s knowledge of INSCOM’s processes differed from its apparent misunderstanding of the names of the proper agency funding sources. With regard to Pluribus’ corporate experience, Silverback7 primarily contended that the agency’s evaluation was improper because Pluribus should not have received a higher rating than Silverback7. The record showed that Silverback7 was assigned an acceptable rating because the agency concluded that its strengths were offset by the weakness. On the other hand, the record showed that the agency found that Pluribus provided extensive examples of its corporate experience, which merited seven strengths and no weaknesses.
Lastly, Silverback7 challenged the agency’s evaluation of Pluribus’ past performance, arguing that the agency unreasonably determined that there was essentially “no doubt” that Pluribus could perform the requirement where the single past performance reference provided was not fully relevant. GAO however, found that the agency’s past performance assessment was reasonable and adequately documented. Even though the agency’s assessment was based upon only one relevant reference, the solicitation did not require an offeror have past performance experience with respect to every requirement of the performance work statement, nor did the solicitation state that an offeror must demonstrate past performance with regard to all seven areas of the PWS to merit an outstanding rating. Instead, the solicitation advised that past performance would be evaluated based on the extent to which an offeror’s past performance is comparable and related to the objectives of the procurement, and the extent to which it is of similar scope to the work that is described in the performance work statement.