Weaknesses Cannot Be Assigned Unequally, GAO Confirms

An unequal evaluation can get an agency into hot water and force a reevaluation, as GAO has stated before. But with agencies entitled to broad discretion in their evaluations, how do you know what constitutes unequal evaluation?

Some GAO opinions can leave you wondering where the line is drawn, but a recent GAO decision provides an easy-to-understand example involving a requirement to train personnel under certain regulations. In that case, the GAO held that it was improper for the agency to assign a weakness to the protester for omitting a discussion of certain regulations as applied to its training program, while failing to assign weaknesses to several awardees whose proposals also omitted this discussion.

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SSA vs. SSEB: Protest Sustained Where Ratings Changes Weren’t Reasonable

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. 

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Contractor Proposes Unavailable Key Employee, GAO Sustains Protest

A contractor’s proposal to use an unavailable employee to fill a key personnel position caused the GAO to sustain a competitor’s protest.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO concluded that a offeror failed to satisfy a material solicitation requirement concerning key personnel where the employee included in the proposal left the offeror’s employment–and the agency knew that the employee was not available to perform the contract.

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GAO: Agency Discussions Need Not Include “New” Weakness

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that an agency did not fail to provide an offeror with meaningful discussions about an evaluated weakness in the offeror’s staffing approach because the aspect of the staffing plan deemed to be a weakness was introduced in the offeror’s final proposal revision, or FPR.

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Contractor Misses Solicitation’s Past Performance Requirement; Gets High Score Anyway

A contractor was awarded an “Excellent” past performance score despite submitting only three past performance references, not the five past performance references required by the solicitation.

Although one might think that a contractor would be penalized for failing to satisfy such a requirement, the GAO held that the procuring agency properly gave the contractor in question a high past performance score, based on the three submitted references and past performance information obtained from other sources.

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GAO: Agency Should Have Considered Experience Of Contractor’s Personnel

A procuring agency’s assignment of a “significant weakness” on the basis of a contractor’s supposed lack of experience was unreasonable because the agency did not consider the experience of the contractor’s personnel.

In BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services, Inc., B-405664, B-405664.2 (Dec. 12, 2011), the GAO sustained a bid protest, holding in part that the agency erred by overlooking the experience of the protester’s personnel.

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GAO: Agency Failed To Identify Proposal Weaknesses In Discussions

A procuring agency failed to conduct meaningful discussions where it merely asked a contractor to clarify its understanding of a certain portion of the solicitation, rather than informing the contractor of specific proposal weaknesses relating to that same portion of the solicitation.

The GAO’s bid protest decision in Nexant, Inc., B-407708, B-407708.2 (Jan. 30, 2013) demonstrates that when an agency has identified specific weaknesses in a contractor’s proposal, discussions must be sufficiently detailed to enable the contractor to understand the agency’s concern and have the opportunity to improve its proposal.

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