GAO Sustains Protest for Converting Best-Value Evaluation into LPTA

In a recent decision, GAO sustained a protest arguing that the agency had actually converted a best-value tradeoff procurement into a lowest-priced, technically acceptable competition. GAO held that the agency had not properly followed the evaluation criteria.

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GAO: Proposal Strengths Must be Based on Solicitation Criteria, Not Merely Benefit to Government

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.

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Agency’s Reliance on Unstated Evaluation Criteria Leads to Sustained Protest

A solicitation’s evaluation criteria are tremendously important. Not only must offerors understand and comply with those criteria in order to have a chance at being awarded the contract, but the agency must abide by them too. Where an agency does not, it risks that a protest challenging the application of an unstated evaluation criteria will be sustained.

So it was in Phoenix Air Group, Inc., B-412796.2 et al. (Sept. 26, 2016), a recent GAO decision sustaining a protest where the protester’s proposal was unreasonably evaluated under evaluation criteria not specified in the solicitation.

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Past Performance: Agency Reasonably Considered Quantity

An agency reasonably considered the quantity of offerors’ relevant past performance, even though the solicitation only stated that the relevance and quality of past performance would be considered.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that the quantity of an offeror’s past performance is logically encompassed within a review of the quality of past performance, and need not be separately identified as an area of evaluation.

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GAO: SDVOSB Improperly Downgraded For Not Identifying Its Subcontractors

A SDVOSB was improperly downgraded for not identifying its subcontractors in its proposal, according to a recent GAO bid protest decision.

In Coburn Contractors, LLC, B-408279.2 (Sept. 30, 2013), the GAO held that the VA improperly applied an unstated evaluation criterion by requiring that the protester identify its subcontractors, because according to the solicitation, a subcontractor list was only required at the task order level.

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Past Performance: Agency Properly Considered Project Size

A procuring agency appropriately considered the size of offerors’ past performance projects in evaluating proposals, even though project size was not expressly stated as an evaluation factor.

According to a recent GAO bid protest decision, contractors should assume that project size may be considered whenever past performance is evaluated, because size bears on the relevancy of a past performance project.

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Contractor Improperly Downgraded for Lack of Agency-Specific Experience, Says GAO

A contractor bidding on a U.S. Department of State contract was improperly downgraded for failing to possess direct experience working with DOS, according to a recent GAO bid protest decision.

The GAO’s decision in Exelis Systems Corporation B-407111; B-407111.2; B-407111.3; B-407111.4 (Nov. 13, 2012) is notable because it is not unusual for procuring agencies to consider agency-specific experience as part of a past performance and/or experience evaluation.  According to Exelis Systems Corporation, such considerations may be deemed improper, unless they are spelled out in (or can be reasonably inferred from) the solicitation.

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