Link: GAO Decision
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest Denied.
An agency reasonably evaluated the protester’s proposal under the minimum antiterrorism building standards cited in the solicitation, rather than against later revised standards that were not incorporated; the agency was not required to amend the solicitation after receiving proposals to reflect the revised standards where the agency requires the standards included in the solicitation.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Systems Research and Applications Corporation (SRA) protested the award to Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) of a contract for Enterprise Operations Security Services (EOSS II) information technology services. The RFP, issued under the GSA Alliant GWAC, provided for award on a best value basis, considering technical, management, transition, past performance and price factors. An unacceptable rating under any factor or subfactor would result in the rejection of a proposal. The contractor was to provide a primary network operations and security center (NOSC), which complied with the DOD’s Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC) 4-010-01, DOD Minimum Antiterrorism Standards for Buildings (2007 UFC) and included a single office space for approximately 43 DOD staff. The 2007 UFC provided that, with regards to leased or assigned space occupied by DOD staff, the UFC standards were applicable only where the DOD personnel occupy at least 25% of the net interior usable area or the area defined by the lease.
After receiving their offers, the agency requested that SRA and SAIC clarify how their proposed facility satisfied the minimum standards of the 2007 UFC. SRA responded that the UFC standards did not apply to its space because the DOD personnel would occupy less than 20% of the floor leased for the NSOC facility, and thus less than 3% of the usable space in the entire building. SAIC explained how its facility satisfied the 2007 UFC standards. After the clarifications were received, the DOD updated UFC 4-010-01 to state that the standards only applied where DOD personnel occupied at least 25% of the usable building area; the RFP was not amended to incorporate the updated UFC.
The agency found SRA’s proposal unacceptable under the NOSC facility factor, based on its failure to provide a facility which complied with the 2007 UFC minimum standards. SRA also offered the highest price of the three offers received. Although all offerors proposed to discount their Alliant contract labor rates, SAIC offered the greatest discount. To evaluate the performance risk of these discounted rates, the price evaluation team estimated offerors’ most probable cost under two scenarios: capping discounts at 20%; and applying the Alliant contract labor rates without discounts. The agency concluded the proposed prices did not present a performance risk, and the task order was issued to SAIC.
The GAO found reasonable the agency’s evaluation of proposals against the 2007 UFC rather than the 2012 UFC. It disagreed with SRA that SRA’s facility was not subject to the minimum standards of the 2007 UFC, pointing out that the agency reasonably based its assessment on the floor leased by SRA, rather than the entire building, and reasonably based its calculation on the number of contractor personnel as well as DOD employees working in the NOSC facility. The GAO also disagreed that the 2012 UFC significantly changed the agency’s requirements such that it was required to amend the solicitation.
The GAO rejected SRA’s argument that the agency improperly accepted SAIC’s expired offer, pointing out that the revival of an expired offer is acceptable where it would not compromise the integrity of the competitive procurement system. Finally, the GAO held that the agency’s price realism analysis was reasonable, recognizing the risk of low prices but concluding that they were nevertheless realistic.
Agencies are required to evaluate proposals in accordance with the terms of the solicitation. Where a solicitation incorporates a particular external standard as the date of the solicitation, but that standard is later revised, the agency is required to adhere to the standard as stated in the solicitation. If the revised standard is so different from the original as to materially change the agency’s needs, it may be necessary to amend the solicitation. If the solicitation is not amended, prospective offerors should carefully consider whether a pre-award protest should be filed objecting to the use of the older standard.