By now, our frequent readers are familiar with GAO’s mantra that it is an offeror’s responsibility to submit a well-written proposal that complies with the solicitation’s requirements and risks being found unacceptable if it fails to do so.
That rule serves its purpose: it helps maintain an organized bidding process, under which the agency can evaluate proposals on an even footing. But it can also lead to harsh results, like it did in a recent protest challenging a proposal’s unacceptability due to its non-compliant table of contents.
Let’s take a look.
When an agency reevaluates proposals in response to a protest, the reevaluation must be thorough and reasonable.
In a recent GAO bid protest decision, GAO sustained a protest because the agency’s reevaluation of proposals, undertaken after a protest was sustained, did not reasonably address “widespread discrepancies” in the awardee’s proposal.
In a best value acquisition, the final decision is typically made by a Source Selection Authority. But what happens when the SSA disagrees with the ratings assigned by the evaluators, such as a Source Selection Evaluation Board?
The SSA has a good deal of discretion, but that discretion isn’t unlimited. In a recent decision, GAO sustained a protest where the SSA’s disagreements with the SSEB didn’t appear to be reasonable.
A solicitation’s evaluation criteria are tremendously important. Not only must offerors understand and comply with those criteria in order to have a chance at being awarded the contract, but the agency must abide by them too. Where an agency does not, it risks that a protest challenging the application of an unstated evaluation criteria will be sustained.
So it was in Phoenix Air Group, Inc., B-412796.2 et al. (Sept. 26, 2016), a recent GAO decision sustaining a protest where the protester’s proposal was unreasonably evaluated under evaluation criteria not specified in the solicitation.
An offeror’s failure to provide the type of past performance information mandated by a solicitation led to the offeror’s elimination from consideration for a major GSA contract.
A recent GAO bid protest decision highlights the importance of fully reading and adhering to a solicitation’s requirements–including those involving the type of past performance or experience information required.
An agency’s evaluation of proposals was not improper even though the Source Selection Authority “cut and paste” portions of a selection document used in a similar procurement–including typographical errors and a reference to a firm that had not submitted a proposal.
The GAO’s recent decision highlights an uncomfortable truth of government contracting: while the government can (and often does) demand nearly perfect proposals, the government may be able to get by with sloppy or lazy evaluations.