Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Overly restrictive terms; Protest of Terms of the Solicitation
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: Agencies enjoy broad discretion in the selection of evaluation criteria, and GAO will not object to the use of particular evaluation criteria so long as they reasonably relate to the agency’s needs in choosing a contractor that will best serve the government’s interests.
SML Innovations protests the terms of a request for proposals (RFP) issued as a total small business set-aside by the Department of the Army for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Enterprise Application Services (EAS) in support of the Army Enterprise Systems Integration Program.
The RFP was issued for the purpose of awarding multiple indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) contracts for EAS services to include analysis, design, development, deployment, fielding, and sustainment of enterprise applications. There were four evaluation factors: technical, past performance, management, and price. Offerors could submit one to three past performance references, but references must be current and relevant. The current work had to be performed in the last three years prior to the date of the RFP and work must be the same or similar in scope, complexity, and magnitude. The annual dollar value must be at least $2 million, held as either a prime or major subcontractor, with performance of at least 12 months.
SML asserts that the dollar requirement will exclude from competition the majority of small businesses and is therefore, unduly restrictive. GAO states that the fact that an aspect of an RFP’s evaluation criteria may prevent a number of small firms from obtaining positive past performance ratings in not dispositive of whether the provision is unduly restrictive. Agency’s enjoy broad discretion in the selection of evaluation criteria and GAO will not object as long as the criteria reasonably relate to the agency’s needs. The determination of a contracting agency’s needs and the best method for accommodating them are matters primarily within the agency’s discretion.
Here, GAO states that the record supports the agency’s position that the $2 million annual minimum for relevant past performance references is reasonably related to it needs. The total amount of all orders placed against all contracts awarded under the RFP may exceed $240 million, with each individual order likely to exceed $2 million. Based on historical records of ERP-EAS requirements, the average task order is expected to be $2.8 million. Given the total amount to be expended under contracts resulting from the RFP, the average amount of individual task orders, and the fact that each awardee will likely be required to perform multiple concurrent task orders, GAO finds that the agency’s requirement is unobjectionable. The protest is denied.