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.Continue reading
Agencies often find unanticipated, innovative content in offerors’ proposals. And unsurprisingly, those proposals are often the ones selected for award. But a recent GAO decision reminds us that all strengths an agency assigns must be supported by the stated evaluation criteria.
In other words, the solicitation must thoroughly inform offerors of these evaluation criteria, and the agency must equally evaluate offerors under them. An offeror’s proposal should not get extra credit for proposing things that are not anticipated by or logically encompassed in the solicitation.Continue reading
Strong working relationships between contractors and contracting officers are a significant asset. For example, the Customs and Border Patrol recently relied heavily on its experience working with the incumbent contractor to “infer” proposed technical approaches and award corresponding strengths. Unfortunately, when this award was subsequently protested, GAO did not agree with the Border Patrol’s inferential technique.
As GAO explained, a reviewing agency may not credit a bid with technical strengths that are not present within the proposal.Continue reading
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.
In its evaluation of proposals, a procuring agency gave a challenger a strength for proposing to recruit incumbent employees, but didn’t give the incumbent contractor a strength–even though the incumbent contractor proposed to retain the very same people.
Unsurprisingly, the GAO found that the evaluation was unequal, and sustained the incumbent’s protest.