Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: United States Agency for International Development
Disposition: Protest denied.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
GAO denied the protest of the Louis Berger Group, Inc., based on the exclusion of its proposal from the competitive range under a request for proposals (RFP), issued by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for economic development services.
The RFP provided for the award of a five-year, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for technical assistance supporting USAID’s economic development program in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (the Jordan Competitiveness Program). The goals of this program are to foster a business-enabling environment that is supportive of business development, growth, investment, and innovation; improve Jordanian workforce skills; increase competitiveness of targeted “clusters” (business sectors); and increase financial access for Jordanian businesses and entrepreneurs.
Louis Berger objects to the exclusion of its proposal from the competitive range, challenging every aspect of the agency’s evaluation of its technical proposal. GAO stated at the outset that the protester’s arguments are a mere disagreement with the agency and provide no basis to sustain the protest. For example, with regard to the technical approach factor, GAO found that the record showed that the agency’s evaluation of the protester’s proposal was reasonable. Offerors were instructed to provide and were assessed based on the quality of the overall technical approach to environmental considerations and gender. GAO agreed with the agency that Louis Berger did not address the environmental impact of its proposed activities simply by listing a handful of organizations.
With regard to the personnel factor, GAO found that the record did not support the protester’s challenges. The solicitation explicitly encouraged offerors to use Jordanian professional staff to the maximum extent possible and stated that the agency would evaluate the composition, number, and skill mix of offerors’ proposed staffing plans. In this respect, the protester has not shown that the agency’s consideration of the number of expatriates proposed by Louis Berger in the first program year was inconsistent with the evaluation criteria.
Under the management approach subfactor, the record showed that the agency reasonably evaluated the protester’s proposal consistent with the RFP’s stated evaluation criteria. The agency stated that it would evaluate an offeror’s strategic use of local and international partnerships, as well as the offeror’s proposed management plan and organizational structure. The agency’s assessment that Louis Berger’s reliance on one proposed university partner for curriculum development was reasonable, particularly where the proposed university’s partnership was clearly conditional, as reflected in the commitment letter. Moreover, the RFP required offerors to explain how they would administer the competitive partnership fund, and required the contractor to submit a manual for implementing and managing grants under the contract. Although the protester did not dispute the extent of the agency’s evaluation in that regard, it also did not show how the evaluation was inconsistent with the RFP’s requirements.