Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Disposition: Protest denied.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
GAO denied the protest of Unispec Enterprises, Inc., based on the award of a contract to Wichita Tribal Enterprises, LLC, under a request for proposals (RFP), issued by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), for institutional support services for NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center.
The RFP was issued as a competitive section 8(a) set-aside and provided for the award of a single indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. The RFP advised that proposals would be evaluated using technical capability, past performance, and price. The technical capability factor included three subfactors: management proposal, technical approach, and sample scenario. The past performance factor required the offeror to identify three contracts completed or ongoing within the last five years to show the offeror’s ability to perform.
Unispec first challenges the agency’s evaluation under the technical capability factor, arguing that the agency should have assessed it a number of strengths instead of weaknesses. Unispec also challenges the agency’s evaluation of the awardee’s evaluation, arguing that NASA engaged in disparate treatment of the competing offerors. GAO concluded that the agency’s conclusions were not unreasonable and that Unispec’s arguments of disparate treatment reflect a mere disagreement with the agency. As an example, GAO explained that where Unispec argued that the agency failed to recognize that Unispec and the awardee’s proposals under the management proposal subfactor were the same, and both should have been awarded strengths, GAO disagreed. GAO explained that the agency reasonably assigned the awardee’s proposal a strength for its compensation plan, but gave Unispec’s compensation plan a lower rating where Unispec’s plan did not include similar wage and benefit guarantees.
Unispec next challenged NASA’s evaluation of past performance. However, GAO ultimately found that Unispec did not show that it was unreasonable for the agency to assign a moderate confidence rating. For example, the evaluators found that the largest contract that Unispec submitted for review only included one of the four tasks to be performed and the two smaller contracts involved only half the tasks.
Lastly, Unispec argued that NASA conducted unequal discussions with the offerors. GAO concluded that Unispec did not show unequal discussions. NASA submitted the same discussion items to both offerors requesting clarity.