Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: West Construction, Inc.
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest challenging an agency’s technical evaluation and selection of the lower-rated, lower-priced proposal for award is denied, where the record shows that the agency’s evaluation and selection decision was reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
West Construction, Inc. protested the award to Carter Construction Structures, Inc. of a contract to design and build a parking structure at the VA Caribbean Healthcare System in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Under the past performance factor, offerors were instructed to demonstrate experience with design-build projects, parking garage projects, and projects completed in the geographical region. Although West’s proposal received a higher technical evaluation, the CO made award on a best value basis to the lower-priced Carter, finding that Carter had mitigated its weakness for lack of Puerto Rican experience by teaming with a local company with design-build parking structure experience.
The GAO found that West did not meaningfully reply to the agency’s specific responses to each of the protestor’s objections regarding its evaluation. The GAO noted that West merely repeated its initial protest grounds, but that West did not demonstrate that the agency’s evaluation was unreasonable. The GAO also found that West had not contested the agency’s response regarding its technical evaluation of Carter, pointing out that some of West’s concerns with Carter’s proposal were noted by the agency as weaknesses in its evaluation. Finally, the GAO held that West had failed to show that the agency’s selection of Carter as providing the best value was unreasonable.
Disappointed offerors must have specific grounds for protest; mere disagreement with the agency’s conclusions will be insufficient to sustain a protest. The GAO will generally reject arguments objecting to the evaluation of proposals so long as the agency has adequately documented its conclusions and those conclusions are reasonable in light of the stated evaluation criteria. Furthermore, protestors must adequately respond to any arguments made by the agency in its report; simply repeating the arguments from the initial protest will result in a denial.