Proposal Re-Evaluation: Protester’s Scores Could Be Lower Than In Original Evaluation

When a procuring agency re-evaluates proposals in response to a protest, the agency need not stick with the results of the original evaluation.

As demonstrated in a recent GAO bid protest decision, when an agency re-evaluates proposals, it is expected that the re-evaluation could result in different findings and conclusions–including new conclusions that are not favorable to the protester.

The GAO’s decision in All Points Logistics, Inc., B-407273.53 (June 10, 2014) involved the Department of Homeland Security’s solicitation for Enterprise Gateway for Leading-Edge Solutions II (EAGLE II).  The EAGLE II solicitation offered different tracks in which offerors competed for awards under three functional categories.

All Points Logistics, Inc. submitted a proposal in the SDVOSB track for one of the functional categories.  The solicitation stated that awards would be made on a best value basis, considering price, corporate experience, past performance, program management, and staffing.

In its original evaluation of APL’s proposal, the DHS assigned APL the highest-possible adjectival score–“Excellent”–for its past performance.  APL also received two “Satisfactory” adjectival scores and one “Superior” score.  After conducting a best value tradeoff, DHS notified APL that it had not been selected for award.

APL filed a GAO bid protest challenging the DHS’s evaluation of its proposal.  After reviewing the protest, the DHS elected to take corrective action, which included re-evaluating APL’s proposal in its entirety.  Because the agency had pledged to re-evaluate APL’s proposal, the GAO dismissed the protest as moot.

In the re-evaluation, the DHS assigned APL a “Satisfactory” adjectival score for its past performance–lower than the “Excellent” score APL had received in the original evaluation.  APL’s scores for corporate experience and program management were the same as under the original evaluation, and its score for staffing was evaluated as “Good” instead of “Satisfactory.”  Based on the results of the re-evaluation, the DHS again notified APL that it had not been selected for award.

APL filed a second bid protest with the GAO.  APL suggested, in part, that it was unreasonable for the agency to have lowered APL’s past performance score.

In a discussion elsewhere in its decision, GAO wrote that “[t]he fact that a reevaluation varies, or does not vary, from an original evaluation does not constitute evidence that the reevaluation was unreasonable.”  The GAO continued, “[i]t is implicit that a reevaluation could result in different findings and conclusions.”   

With respect to APL’s past performance, the GAO found that the new rating of “Satisfactory” was reasonable, writing, “[w]e cannot find fault with the agency’s conclusion that, on balance, APL deserved a satisfactory past performance rating.”  The GAO denied the protest.

As the All Points Logistics bid protest demonstrates, an agency’s pledge to re-evaluate proposals can be a double-edged sword.  When an agency re-evaluates proposals, a contractor’s scores might be lower than in the original evaluation–and the different score will be upheld so long as it is reasonable.

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