Agency Reasonably Accepted Awardee’s 91% Price Premium, GAO Says

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.

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Where Non-Price Ratings Identical, Agency Wasn’t Required to Choose Lower-Priced Offeror

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.

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GAO: “Best Value” Tradeoff Must Consider Benefits Of Lower-Cost Proposal

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.

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