When it comes to “best value” evaluations, agencies ordinarily have broad discretion to accept higher-rated, higher-priced proposals.
How broad is that discretion? Well, in one recent case, the GAO held that an agency reasonably accepted the awardee’s higher-rated proposal, despite a whopping 91% price premium.
In a best value competition, when two offerors receive identical adjectival scores on the non-price factors, one might assume that the procuring agency would be required to award the contract to the lower-priced offeror.
Not so. In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that where two offerors received identical scores on three non-price factors, the agency could still elect to award the contract to the higher-priced offeror.
In a best value tradeoff evaluation, a procuring agency must consider the benefits of a lower-cost proposal, even if that proposal’s cost is not as close to the agency’s internal cost estimate as a higher-priced proposal.
As demonstrated by a recent GAO bid protest decision, it is improper in a tradeoff analysis for an agency to refuse to consider the relative benefits of paying a lower cost for a lower-rated proposal.