GAO: Misrepresentation on Key Person Availability Sinks Proposal

Agencies rely on the representations made by offerors in their proposals to determine how capable each offeror is. In many cases, key personnel are so vital to an offeror’s chance of success that any change to the key personnel must be approved by the agency prior to such a change taking place. Logic follows that the risk of losing a possible award outweighs any benefit that may be reaped from stretching the truth. Nonetheless, from time to time an offeror will decide to give it a try, hoping that any inaccuracies will be overlooked, or will simply unintentionally misrepresent a detail. But, as one offeror learned, the possibility of such inaccuracies being discovered is high, and the end result is far from ideal.

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GAO Sustains Challenge Based on Misrepresentation of Incumbent Staff Availability

It’s generally a pretty high bar to argue the ol’ “bait and switch” concerning what personnel will actually perform a contract. But specifically naming a crucial employee of the incumbent in your proposal—without ever talking to that employee about working on the new contract—can meet the bar in a GAO protest.

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Awardee’s Bait And Switch Leads To Sustained Protest

Ordinarily, whether an offeror’s proposed personnel actually perform under a contract is a non-protestable matter of contract administration. But GAO will consider the issue when an offeror proposes personnel that it did not have a reasonable basis to expect to provide during contract performance in order to obtain a more favorable evaluation. Such a “bait and switch” amounts to a material misrepresentation that undermines the integrity of the procurement and evaluation.

That’s exactly what happened in a recent protest, where the GAO disqualified the awardee from competition after determining that its proposal misrepresented the incumbent employees’ availability to continue working under the contract.

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