Link: GAO Decision
Agency: Department of Defense
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest that agency misevaluated awardee’s proposal and made an unreasonable source selection decision is denied where record shows that agency’s evaluation and source selection was reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation and applicable procurement laws and regulations
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
UnitedHealth Military & Veterans Services, LLC (UMVS) protested the award to Humana Military Healthcare Services, Inc. (HMHS) of a contract for TRICARE managed health care support services for the south region. UMVS was initially awarded the contract, after the agency determined the proposals of UMVS and HMHS were essentially equal from a technical approach and past performance standpoint, but that UMVS offered the best value to the government. HMHS successfully protested the failure of the agency’s technical evaluation to consider certain discounts offered by HMHS. The agency amended the solicitation, and allowed the offerors to engage in discussions and revise certain portions of their proposals.
The GAO first declined to consider UMVS’s claim that HMHS’s proposal improperly deviated from requirements relating to the right of first refusal with civilian referrals, noting that UMVS had all the information to make this argument at the time of its first protest. It then denied UMVS’s argument that HMHS impermissibly exceeded the 15-page limit on revisions to the technical proposal. It found that the additional narrative information provided in HMHS’s appendices were supporting materials providing the underlying explanation of HMHS’s assumptions and overall approach to possible changes in Medicare rates. The GAO found no merit to UMVS’s argument that the agency unreasonably evaluated the proposal risk associated with HMHS’s proposed guaranteed network discount, noting that HMHS based its proposed discounts on historical experience and had provided a detail explanation for how it performed its calculations.
UMVS then contested the agency’s evaluation of HMHS’s proposed price based on the amount of underwriting fees, objecting to the fact that HMHS reduced its underwriting fees during the revision process. The GAO found that the agency had properly assessed the risk associated with HMHS‘s ability to meet its proposed guaranteed network discount, but had determined that this risk was mitigated by other contract revenue considerations as well as HMHS’s experience in performing the requirement. Finally, UMVS objected to the agency’s evaluation of the performance risk associated with the proposal of one of HMHS’s subcontractors, arguing that the subcontractor’s proposed reduction in staff was not adequately considered. The GAO found that the agency reviewed the subcontractor’s proposal and factored this into its overall assessment of performance risk for the HMHS proposal.
While a disappointed offeror might object to the approach to satisfying the contract requirements that the awardee offers, mere disagreement in method is insufficient to sustain a protest. A protestor must provide explicit reasons for why the awardee’s proposal failed to satisfy the terms of the RFP and why, therefore, the agency’s selection of that proposal was unreasonable. Simply disagreeing with the awardee’s business strategy will not provide a basis for the GAO to sustain a protest, so long as the agency reasonably evaluated the proposal.