DOCUMENT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE
The decision issued on the date below was subject to a GAO Protective Order. This redacted version has been approved for public release.
Matter of: Alliance Technical Services, Inc.
File: B-311329; B-311329.2
Date: May 30, 2008
J. Gardner, Esq., George G. Booker, Jr., Esq., and Jessica L. Martyn, Esq.,
Troutman Sanders LLP, for the protester.
Kellington, Esq., Department of the Navy, for the agency.
G. Curcio, Esq., and John M. Melody, Esq., Office of the General Counsel, GAO,
participated in the preparation of the decision.
Protest that agency failed to hold meaningful
discussions with protester regarding experience is denied where record shows
that there is no merit to allegation and that, even if protester’s proposal
received highest possible evaluation score in area where discussions allegedly
were insufficient, its proposal would remain lower technically rated and higher
priced than awardees’ proposals; since protester thus would not be in line for
award, it was not prejudiced by any insufficient discussions.
Protest that agency improperly failed to conduct
comparative evaluation of proposals in determining “best value” is denied where
proposals selected for award were highest technically rated and lowest priced.
Technical Services, Inc. (ATS) protests
contract awards to Gryphon Technologies, LC and EHS Technologies Corporation
under request for proposals (RFP) No. N65530-06-R-0010, issued by the
Department of the Navy for engineering, technical analysis, and support
services for naval ship hull, mechanical and electrical, and combat support
complains that the agency failed to hold meaningful discussions and failed to
document its “best value” determination.
We deny the protest.
The RFP, issued on August 10, 2006, contemplated the best
value award of one or more contracts based on an evaluation of technical factors
(personnel, with subfactors for senior engineering technician, senior corrosion
control technician and program manager; corporate experience and past
performance; management quality assurance, with subfactors for technical
understanding, organizational structure, management ability and quality
assurance plan; and facilities, with subfactors for physical access, hardware
capabilities and software capabilities) and price (which was to be evaluated
for realism). RFP at 63, 64.
Four offerors responded to the
RFP. Following the evaluation of initial
proposals, discussions, and the submission and evaluation of final proposal
revisions, Gryphon’s proposal was ranked first technically with 95.7 (of 100
available) points--44.6 (of 47) points for personnel, 33.4 (of 35) points for
experience/past performance, 11.7 (of 12) points for management quality
assurance, and 6 (of 6) points for facilities.
EHS’s proposal was ranked second technically with 85.8 points--40 for
personnel, 30.1 for experience/past performance, 9.9 for management, and
5.8 for facilities. ATS’s
proposal was ranked fourth with 75 points--32.1 for personnel, 27 for
experience/past performance, 10.1 for management, and 5.8 for facilities. Agency Report (AR) at 4, Evaluation Summary
Matrix. With respect to price, as
evaluated for realism, EHS’s price was low ($32,669,567.68), Gryphon’s was second low ($34,306,671.99), and ATS’s
was third low ($38,386.570.33). Id. The agency awarded contracts to Gryphon and
ETS, the two offerors with the highest technical scores and lowest evaluated
protests the awards.
Under the corporate experience
subfactor, offerors were evaluated for demonstrated experience in providing
engineering and technical services related to the statement of work. RFP at 59.
Among other things, offerors were specifically required to supply three
work examples related to surface ship corrosion control post shakedown
availabilities, and two examples related to monitoring surface ship shipboard
work during an availability period while in a building yard or shipyard. RFP Amend. 4, at 5. The agency found ATS’s proposal unclear as to
which of the listed experience information was to be evaluated for the work
examples requested. During discussions,
the agency advised ATS that “ATS provides corporate
experience information . . ., but does not specify which information is to be
used for the work examples requested.” Discussion
Question 9. In its final
proposal revision (FPR), ATS provided an
explanation of how the information in its proposal related to the work examples
requested. Thereafter, in evaluating ATS’s
FPR, the agency found that the listed experience was not highly relevant. ATS
asserts that the discussions in this area were not meaningful because the
record shows that, during the initial evaluation, one of the evaluators made
comments that were not communicated to ATS.
This argument is without merit. The statements of the individual evaluator to
which ATS refers were not carried forward
into the consensus evaluation, which formed the basis for ATS’s
score under the corporate experience subfactor, and upon which the discussion
questions were based. Accordingly, the
evaluator’s comments do not provide a basis for questioning the adequacy of
discussions with ATS. See generally Lakeside
Escrow & Title Agency, Inc., B-310331.3, Jan. 7, 2008, 2008 CPD para. __ (where individual evaluator
comments are not included in consensus evaluation report, objections to
statements of evaluator are irrelevant).
In any case, ATS’s
proposal received 75 total technical points, while the awardees’ proposals received
95.7 and 85.8 technical points. Under the
corporate experience subfactor, ATS’s FPR
received 19 of the 25 available points.
Final Evaluation, Subfactor B-1.
This being the case, even if ATS’s
proposal received a perfect score of 25 points for corporate experience, its total
evaluated score would only increase to 81 points. Since, even under this scenario, ATS’s
proposal would be rated lower technically than the two awardees’ proposals, and
its price would remain higher than both awardees’ prices, ATS
would not be in line for award even if it prevailed on this aspect of its
protest. Under these circumstances ATS
was not prejudiced by any failure by the agency to provide meaningful
discussions. G&N, L.L.C.,
B-285118 et al., July 19, 2000,
2000 CPD para. 3 at 11.
ATS asserts that the best value determination
was flawed because the agency has provided no documents showing that proposals
were evaluated by individual evaluators and because the agency has provided no
evidence that it conducted a comparative analysis of the proposals to determine
which was the best value.
This argument is
without merit. First, the lack of documents prepared by individual evaluators does not render an agency’s evaluation unreasonable per se; rather,
we consider the record adequate if the consensus documents and source selection decision sufficiently document the
agency’s rationale for the evaluation. Joint
Mgmt. and Tech. Servs., B-294229, B-294229.2, Sept. 22, 2004, 2004 CPD para. 208 at 3-4; Global Eng’g and Constr., LLC, B-290288.3, B-290288.4, Apr.
3, 2003, 2003 CPD para. 180 at 3 n.3. Here,
the evaluation documentation is sufficient because it
includes the evaluators’ consensus report, which details the strengths and
weaknesses of the proposals that formed the basis for both the agency’s
evaluation ratings for each offeror and the selection decision itself. With respect to the absence of a detailed
comparative evaluation of the proposals, since the proposals selected for award
were both higher technically rated and lower priced than ATS’s proposal, such a comparative evaluation--i.e.,
a price-technical tradeoff--was not required.
MD Helicopters, Inc., Agusta Westland, Inc., B-298503 et al.,
Oct. 23, 2006, 2006 CPD para. 164 at 49 n.49.
In an April 14
supplemental protest, ATS
argues that the agency improperly evaluated the proposals of EHS and Gryphon
under the program manager and senior engineering technician personnel
subfactors; failed to consider the individual evaluators’ findings in
evaluating ATS’s proposal under the personnel factor;
improperly evaluated ATS’s
proposal under the past performance subfactor; provided disparate discussions;
improperly failed to document the individual evaluators’ FPR evaluations; and
that the awards represent illegal personal services contracts.
Under our Bid
Protest Regulations, a protest not based on an apparent solicitation
impropriety must be filed within 10 calendar days after the basis of protest is
known, or should have been known, whichever is earlier. 4 C.F.R. sect. 21.2(a)(2) (2008). Where a protester files supplemental protest
grounds, each new ground must independently satisfy the timeliness requirements
of our Regulations. QualMed, Inc.,
B-257184.2, Jan. 27, 1995, 95-1 CPD para. 94 at 12-13. Here, ATS’s supplemental protest raises new issues
that are based on documents ATS
received from the agency on April 1. Since ATS did not file the supplemental protest until
April 14, more than 10 days later, the issues raised are untimely and will not be considered.
The protest is
Gary L. Kepplinger