Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: The Emergence Group
Agency: Department of State
Disposition: Protest Sustained.
Protest of past performance evaluation is sustained where the agency’s past performance evaluation was unreasonable and not conducted in accordance with the solicitation’s evaluation scheme.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
The Emergence Group Advisors, LLC (TEG) protested the award to BlueLaw International, LLC; Bering Straits and Orion Management Joint Venture (BSOM); Team Crucible; FedSys, Inc.; and Global Criminal Justice Solutions, LLC (GCJS), of contracts for criminal justice program support (CJPS). The RFP sought to secure CJPS services to implement civilian police and criminal justice assistance programs overseas, in two groups of awards: one unrestricted and the other set aside for small businesses. After award was made to BlueLaw, BSOM, Crucible, and Navigator Development Group, TEG, GCJS, and FedSys protested, in response to which the agency took corrective action. The agency conducted discussions and accepted revised final proposals from those offerors in the competitive range. TEG again protested award, and the GAO sustained the protest with the recommendation that the agency reevaluate proposals, conduct discussions and obtain revised proposals if appropriate, and make a new source selection decision.
TEG again objected to the past performance evaluations, noting that none of the awardees had the required number of references to relevant prior projects, acting as prime contractors, as defined in the RFP. The GAO held a hearing to clarify how the agency determined that the awardees’ past performance was relevant. The GAO found that the agency’s interpretation of the solicitation, as not requiring the past performance evaluation to consider separate references for the prime contractor and the principal subcontractors, nullified and rendered meaningless certain mandatory language, and was therefore unreasonable.
Agencies are required to treat all offerors equally and to evaluate their proposals evenhandedly against the solicitation’s requirements and evaluation criteria. Disappointed offerors should always request a debriefing to understand what weaknesses were assessed upon their proposal. Should a disappointed offeror believe that the evaluation of its proposal or that of other offerors did not reflect the evaluation criteria reflected in the RFP, that offeror may have adequate grounds for a protest.