Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Supreme Foodservice GmbH
Agency: Defense Logistics Agency
Disposition: Protest Sustained.
- Protest challenging agency’s assignment of highest possible experience/past performance rating to awardee’s proposal under size and complexity evaluation element is sustained where solicitation called for comparison of offerors’ most relevant prior contracts to a defined dollar threshold, on an individual basis, and record shows that none of awardee’s contracts met the dollar threshold.
- Protest challenging evaluation of favorable past performance data obtained internally by agency, which conflicted with adverse past performance information provided in awardee’s proposal, is sustained where record does not permit meaningful review of whether agency’s evaluation was reasonable.
- Protest that agency’s evaluation of protester’s and awardee’s proposals under past performance subfactors was inconsistent and, therefore, unreasonable is sustained where record does not reflect a reasonable basis for agency’s decision to consider some information outside a 12-month window, while refusing to consider other information outside that 12-month window.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Supreme Foodservice GmbH protested the award to ANHAM FZCO of a contract for the supply and distribution of subsistence products to locations throughout Afghanistan. The solicitation contemplated the award of a single ID/IQ contract to the offeror whose proposal was determined to be the most advantageous to the government considering price and five technical factors, with their corresponding subfactors and elements, which were considerably more important than price. The SSAC determined, and the SSA concurred, that ANHAM’s proposal represented the best value to the government.
Prior to making award, the agency requested that DCMA conduct a pre-award survey to evaluate ANHAM’s financial capability and to verify certain ANHAM technical capabilities. DCMA reviewed ANHAM’s finances and issued a report finding it to be financially capable of performing the contemplated contact. However, the CO identified certain discrepancies between AHNAM’s proposal and DCMA’s findings with regard to ANHAM’s technical capabilities. Based on these discrepancies, the SSA downgraded ANHAM’s rating under one subfactor, but not the overall factor 2 rating, nor the overall proposal rating of good. Finding only slight advantages to Supreme’s higher-technically-rated, higher-priced proposal, the agency determinate that ANHAM represented the best value to the government.
The GAO agreed with Supreme that the agency improperly aggregated the value of prior contracts listed in ANHAM’s proposal when it evaluated ANHAM’s experience/past performance under the size and complexity element as outstanding. Although the RFP provided for evaluation of experience in fulfilling similar requirements of similar size (85-100%) on an individual contract basis, the agency aggregated multiple ANHAM contracts in concluding that ANHAM exceeded the solicitation requirements of 85-100%. The GAO then sustained the protest that the agency misevaluated ANHAM’s proposal under subfactor B of the experience/past performance factor by failing to consider that ANHAM’s proposal showed that it consistently failed to meet a 97% “fill rate” under one of its past contracts, finding that the record did not reflect the basis for the agency’s reliance on a set of fill rates that were higher than those in ANHAM’s proposal.
Supreme then objected to the agency’s refusal to consider favorable past performance information outside the 12-month window prior to issuance of the solicitation, while still considering negative past performance information outside the 12-month window. Although the GAO disagreed that the agency was precluded from considering information outside the 12-month window, it agreed that the agency conducted its past performance evaluation in an inconsistent manner. Because it was unclear what precise effect the flaws discussed had on the assessment of the technical quality of the proposals and evaluation as a whole, the GAO found that Supreme had established the requisite competitive prejudice to sustain the protest.
Disappointed offerors should always request a debriefing so as to better understand the analysis and reasoning behind the agency’s source selection decision, and to gain insight that may improve the offeror’s proposal preparation in future procurements. When deciding whether to pursue a bid protest, disappointed offerors should carefully consider whether they merely disagree with the agency’s award decision, or whether there appear to be improprieties in the procurement which support pursuing a protest. The GAO will generally reject arguments objecting to the evaluation of proposals so long as the agency has adequately documented its conclusions and those conclusions are reasonable in light of the stated evaluation criteria. However, if the agency deviated from the stated evaluation criteria, or the record does not support the agency’s conclusions, there may be sustainable grounds for protest.