Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Navy
Disposition: Protest denied.
1. Agency properly accepted a quotation that complied with the solicitation’s requirements, where there was no significant countervailing evidence reasonably known to the agency evaluators that should have created doubt as to whether the vendor will or can comply with the solicitation’s requirements; whether the vendor, whose quotation agreed without exception to furnish a product in accordance with the terms of the solicitation, actually delivers a product compliant with the terms of the solicitation is a matter of contract administration, which is for consideration by the contracting agency, rather than GAO.
2. Agency, in calculating the vendors’ proposed prices and in its best value analysis, properly did not perform a life cycle cost analysis regarding the solicited software and associated maintenance, where the solicitation did not provide for the performance of a life cycle cost analysis.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Spectrum first protests that the products offered by MTM do not have a Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 validation, and as such do not meet a mandatory requirement set forth in the solicitation. The protester’s argument here is based upon Spectrum’s analysis of publicly-available information concerning MTM’s quoted product, and Spectrum’s understanding of the FIPS validation process.
Based upon a review of the record, the agency reasonably found that MTM’s quotation provided the information requested by the solicitation, and agreed without exception to furnish a product in accordance with the terms of the solicitation. While Spectrum contends that the agency could not accept MTM’s quotation representation without further investigation, an agency may accept a quotation’s representation that indicates compliance with the solicitation requirements, where there is no significant countervailing evidence reasonably known to the agency evaluators that should create doubt whether the offeror will or can comply with the requirement. Here, notwithstanding the detailed arguments by Spectrum as to why MTM’s quotation will not provide a product that meets the FIPS 140-2 certification requirement, the record does not indicate there was any countervailing evidence reasonably known to the agency evaluators before award that should have created doubt that MTM would or could honor its quotation. Whether MTM actually delivers a product compliant with the terms of the solicitation is a matter of contract administration, which is for consideration by the contracting agency, rather than GAO. GAO does not review matters of contract administration under the bid protest function.
The protester also argues that the agency failed to properly evaluate the vendor’s proposed prices, and as a consequence, to determine which quotation represented the best value to the government. Specifically, the protester complains that the agency calculated prices by considering only the prices on a per license basis, multiplied by an estimated 160,000 users, and the price for maintenance. The protester argues here that the agency was required by certain Navy and Office of Management and Budget guidelines to include, in arriving at the vendor’s evaluated prices, a “life-cycle cost analysis.” The protester further argues that the consideration of such an analysis in the agency’s price calculation and best value determination would be consistent with the terms of the solicitation. In this regard, the protester points out that as set forth in the solicitation, “the only exclusion from the competitive cost analysis were the training costs,” and as such, the agency was obligated to consider any costs that were not specifically excluded by the terms of the solicitation.
The agency’s price evaluation was consistent with the terms of the solicitation. The RFQ stated with regard to the price factor that “[l]icense and maintenance prices will be considered on a comparative per seat basis with other prices received in response to this solicitation,” and contained no provision for the evaluation of life cycle costs. Thus, the terms of the RFQ precluded the agency from conducting an evaluation that considered life cycle costs. The fact that the solicitation also included a provision stating that “[t]raining prices will be evaluated for compliance to the stated RFQ requirements but will not be included in the comparative analysis” cannot reasonably be read as requiring the consideration of every other aspect of cost associated with this program that could impact the agency. In this regard, to be reasonable, the interpretation of solicitation language must be consistent with the solicitation when read as a whole and in a manner that gives effect to all of its provisions, and Spectrum’s assertions here simply are not reasonable. To the extent that the protester now contends that the solicitation should have provided for the consideration of life cycle costs either as part of the price evaluation or the best value determination, its protest is untimely. The protest is denied.