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: SKE International, Inc.
File: B-311383; B-311383.2
Date: June 5, 2008
F. Savarino, Esq., John J. O’Brien, Esq., and Bryan T. Bunting, Esq., Cohen
Mohr LLP, for the protester.
Thomas Janczewski, Esq., and Mitchell W. Quick, Esq., Michael Best &
Friedrich LLP, for All Star Services Corporation, an intervenor.
Strait, Esq., U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, for the agency.
Paul E. Jordan, Esq., and John M. Melody, Esq., Office of
the General Counsel, GAO, participated in the preparation of the decision.
Evaluation of protester’s technical proposal was unobjectionable where
agency reasonably found weaknesses associated with firm’s timeliness of
performance because of minor schedule delays in connection with some prior
contracts; corporate experience, based on limited information regarding task
orders; and management approach, based on questions regarding organizational
structure and limited job order contract experience of key personnel.
reasonably evaluated awardee’s past performance as very good notwithstanding
some poor rating responses in limited areas of two Construction Contractor
Appraisal Support System (CCASS) reports, where firm’s rating was otherwise
based on 5 past performance questionnaires and 11 other CCASS reports, all of
which contained a significant majority of excellent, outstanding, and above
SKE, International Inc. protests the award of a contract to All Star Services Corporation (ASSC) under request for proposals (RFP) No. W912DQ-07-R-0040, issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for construction services at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. SKE challenges the agency’s technical evaluation.
We deny the protest.
The RFP sought proposals for sustainment, restoration, and
modernization projects at Fort Leavenworth including, but not limited to,
mechanical, electrical, or fire protection systems, concrete, asphalt, building
renovation or demolition, interior remodeling, roofing, siding, windows, and
doors, and work on infrastructure systems.
The RFP contemplated the award of an
indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) job order contract for a base
year (up to a $6 million ceiling), with four 1 year (up to $6 million ceiling)
Proposals were to be evaluated for “best value” on the
basis of four factors (with relevant subfactors)--(1) past performance
(quality, customer satisfaction, and timeliness); (2) corporate experience; (3)
management approach (organizational structure, plan for responding to/managing
simultaneous task orders, and subcontractor management); and (4) price. Factor 1 was most important and its
subfactors were of equal importance.
Factors 2 and 3 were less important than factor 1, but were equally
weighted and each subfactor under factor 3 was of equal importance. The non-price factors were rated on an
adjectival basis (excellent, very good, satisfactory, marginal, and
unacceptable). Price, which was less
important than the technical factors, was determined based on the offerors’
proposed price coefficients.
Five offerors, including SKE
and ASSC, submitted proposals. A source
selection evaluation board (SSEB) evaluated the proposals (without conducting
discussions) and reached the following consensus technical ratings for SKE
Factor 1: Past
Quality of Product or Service
Factor 2: Corporate
Factor 3: Management
Plan for Simultaneous Work
In evaluating the offerors’ prices, the agency compared
the proposed coefficients to the average market value for the services; lower
percentages were considered more advantageous.
Using this method, the agency determined that SKE’s
coefficient was 87 percent and ASSC’s was 95 percent of the average market
value. Although ASSC proposed higher
coefficients, the contracting officer, as source selection authority (SSA),
found that the technical benefit offered by ASSC’s proposal outweighed any
benefit from SKE’s lower prices. After receiving notice of the award and a
debriefing, SKE filed this protest.
SKE asserts that the
evaluation was flawed because the agency improperly rated its proposal under
each of the evaluation factors. The
protester maintains that a proper evaluation would have resulted in its
proposal being rated equal to or better than ASSC’s, and that its proposal thus
represented the best value for award.
In considering a protest of an agency’s proposal
evaluation, our review is confined to determining whether the evaluation was
reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation and applicable
statutes and regulations. United Def.
LP, B‑286925.3 et al., Apr. 9, 2001, 2001 CPD para. 75 at 10‑11.
The evaluation here was unobjectionable. For example, under the timeliness subfactor
(under the past performance factor), proposals were evaluated on the basis of
responses to three questions on past performance questionnaires (PPQ) completed
by each offeror’s past performance references.
RFP at 67. The only relevant question
here was No. 19--“To what extent did the contractor meet the contract
schedule?” RFP at 58. Respondents were given the following
options--“[c]ompleted substantially ahead of schedule”; “[c]ompleted work on
schedule with no time delays”; “[c]ompleted work on schedule, with minor delays
under extenuating circumstances”; and “[e]xperienced significant delays without
justification.” Id. Before sending the PPQs to its references, SKE
re-typed them, inadvertently changing the wording for the two middle choices to
read--“[c]ompleted work on schedule, with minor delays under” and “[c]ompleted
work on schedule with no time delays extenuating circumstances.” Protest at 6.
Of the eight references for SKE, four
responded that the firm had completed its work “substantially ahead of
schedule” and four responded that it had completed its work “on schedule, with
minor delays under.” Based on these
responses, the SSEB evaluated SKE’s past
performance as satisfactory under the timeliness subfactor.
SKE asserts that its
proposal should have been rated very good under the timeliness subfactor
because of its four ahead-of-schedule ratings, the fact that the other four
responses were marked in the second highest block on the PPQ, and the positive
responses to question No. 17 concerning (in part) customer satisfaction with
schedule. Consolidated Comments at
SKE’s assertions are
without merit. Under the agency’s source
selection evaluation standards, to receive an excellent rating, an offeror’s
past performance record required a few “ahead of schedule” responses, with the
remainder under the “no time delays” category; a very good rating required a
majority of responses in the “no time delays” category; and a satisfactory
rating required most responses in the “no time delays” and “minor delays”
categories. Agency Report (AR), Tab
11. The protester’s PPQs showed four
projects completed ahead of schedule, and another four with minor delays. This array of responses did not meet the
requirements under the above scheme for an excellent or a very good rating; the
responses did meet the requirements for a satisfactory rating. Further, while SKE’s
modified PPQ placed the “with minor delays” category in the second highest
block--where the “no time delays” category was listed on the original
form--there is nothing in the record to suggest that the references who chose
this response disregarded the actual language on the form and intended instead
to indicate “no time delays.” To the
extent that references may have been confused--again, there is no evidence that
this was the case--this was due, not to some improper action by the agency, but
to the protester’s failure to accurately copy the PPQ. Finally, even though the same references who
evaluated SKE as completing its work with
minor delays also marked question No. 17 as “highly” or “exceptionally”
satisfied with SKE’s schedule, there was no
requirement that the agency consider those responses under the timeliness
subfactor. In fact, under the terms of
the RFP, only responses to question Nos. 19-21 were to be considered for the
timeliness subfactor. RFP at 67. Question No. 17 was relevant only to the
customer satisfaction subfactor and SKE’s
proposal received credit for the positive responses in the form of a very good
rating for that subfactor. In any event,
the references’ satisfaction with SKE’s
completion schedule is not necessarily inconsistent with their recognition that
SKE completed those schedules on time, with
minor delays. Under these circumstances,
there was nothing objectionable in the agency’s rating SKE’s
past performance as satisfactory under the timeliness subfactor. 
As a second example, under the corporate experience factor,
offerors’ experience with constructing multiple vertical construction
multi-discipline projects simultaneously was to be evaluated. RFP at 67.
Offerors were instructed to provide complete, organized, and detailed
information and were advised that those proposals providing additional relevant
information that strengthened the overall proposal and added significant value
to the government would be rated higher than those that did not. Id. In rating SKE’s
proposal very good, the SSEB found a strength in the fact that all 10
listed example ID/IQ contracts were job order-type contracts on military
installations, which demonstrated extensive experience performing multiple
simultaneous projects. However, the SSEB
also found a weakness in the lack of detail regarding completion dates and
results of the task orders under the project examples.
SKE asserts that this
weakness was unwarranted--and that its proposal should have been rated
excellent under this factor--because it provided detailed information for each
of its 10 projects. We disagree. Since each overall example project submitted
by SKE concerned an ID/IQ, job-order type
contract, details of the task orders issued under the contracts were reasonably
viewed as relevant to the firm’s corporate experience; the agency thus could
reasonably consider SKE’s failure to provide
more than a brief project description, order date, and amount, without
providing task order results and completion dates, to be a proposal
claims that its failure to provide more detail on individual task orders was
due to the agency’s response to a presolicitation question. Specifically, the agency answered “yes” in
response to a request that the agency confirm the offeror’s understanding that
the data and descriptions provided should be overall contract data, with each
project profile identifying the task orders that fell within the dollar‑size
parameters in the RFP. Protest at
11. We fail to see how the agency’s
response was misleading. While the
agency confirmed that offerors needed to identify the task orders, its response
cannot reasonably be read as mandating a simple listing of task orders or as
otherwise limiting the information offerors were to provide in their
proposals. Since the RFP specifically
advised offerors that proposals providing additional detail would be rated higher,
the SSEB reasonably assessed a weakness based on SKE’s
providing more limited information.
As a final example, under the organizational structure
subfactor offerors were required to submit an organizational chart clearly
identifying the management, design, and construction teams, key positions to be
used in executing task orders, and the relationship among teams. RFP at 68.
Offerors were also to identify minimum key positions, including a
project manager (PM) and quality control manager (QCM), and the minimum
educational, licensing, and/or experience requirements and resumes for proposed
personnel. Id. In this regard, the PM was to have a minimum
of 4 years experience supervising construction projects, and the QCM was to
have a minimum of 5 years experience on construction similar to this
project. RFP at 269, 01451A-4. The SSEB assigned SKE’s
proposal one strength--for key personnel meeting the RFP requirements and
reflecting job order-type work--and two weaknesses--for failure of the
organization chart to show to whom the QCM would report at the corporate level,
and for failure of key personnel to have a greater amount of job order-type
contract experience. SSEB Report at
proposal received a consensus rating of satisfactory under this subfactor.
SKE asserts that the
assessed weaknesses and subfactor rating were improper because they reflected
consideration of undisclosed evaluation factors--the RFP did not require that
the QCM report directly to a corporate officer and its key personnel met or
exceeded the RFP’s requirements. Protest
This argument is without merit. The RFP called for the organizational chart
to show the relationship between contract teams and the offeror’s larger
organization. RFP at 68. SKE’s chart
showed the QCM reporting to SKE
International. However, it did not
identify to whom or what office he would report. SKE
Proposal at 56. We think the SSEB
reasonably could view this as an omission of relevant organizational
information and, thus, as a weakness.
Likewise, we find nothing unreasonable in the SSEB’s assignment of a
weakness based on the QCM’s limited job order contract experience. The record shows that SKE’s
proposed PM had more than the required 4 years of experience and had at
least 6 years of job order-type contract experience, but the QCM only met the
minimum 5-year experience requirement, and was identified as having less than 2
years of job order contract-related experience.
SKE Proposal at 69, 74-75. Since the RFP specifically called for the QCM
to have experience on “construction similar to this contract” (RFP at
01451A-4), the QCM’s experience was a proper consideration under the evaluation
scheme. In sum, while SKE
met the RFP’s requirements, the combination of the two weaknesses under this
subfactor reasonably support the overall satisfactory rating under this
evaluation subfactor. See Lear
Siegler Servs., Inc., B‑280834, B‑280834.2, Nov. 25, 1998, 98‑2 CPD
para. 136 at 12-13.
SKE asserts that the
agency improperly evaluated ASSC’s past performance as superior to SKE’s. Specifically, the protester maintains that
ASSC’s very good rating was undeserved, since the awardee’s past performance
record included some CCASS ratings of satisfactory, fair, and poor, while SKE’s
record contained no ratings of fair or satisfactory. Supplemental Protest at 19.
The agency’s evaluation of ASSC’s past performance was
unobjectionable. The source selection
evaluation standards defined the criteria that had to be met in order for an
offeror to receive a rating of very good.
Under the quality subfactor, an offeror’s PPQ references had to reflect
a majority of responses in the above average or excellent category on all
questions, with a majority of CCASS ratings of very good and excellent. AR, Tab 11.
Under the customer satisfaction subfactor, the majority of PPQ responses
had to be highly satisfied or exceptionally satisfied with regard to quality,
cost, and schedule, and a majority of the CCASS ratings had to be very good and
excellent. Id. Under the timeliness subfactor, the majority
of responses had to be in the work completed with no time delays category, and
a majority of CCASS ratings had to be very good and excellent. Id. In evaluating ASSC’s past performance as very
good under each of these subfactors, the SSEB considered the firm’s five PPQs
and 13 CCASS reports, all of which reflected consistently high ratings, the
majority of which were in the outstanding, excellent, and above average
For example, with regard to quality, the PPQs reflected
some 18 excellent and above average ratings, and only 1 average rating, while
the CCASS ratings reflected more than 90 ratings of outstanding, excellent, and
above average (very good) out of some 131 total responses. AR, Tabs 22 and 23. With regard to timeliness of performance,
four PPQs rated ASSC as completing projects substantially ahead of schedule,
and only one reported completion on schedule with minor delays. AR, Tab 22. Under this same category, the CCASS reports
reflected some 52 responses of outstanding, excellent, and above average
compared to some 34 responses of good, satisfactory, and fair. AR, Tab 23.
While, as the protester notes, ASSC received some poor CCASS ratings,
there were only 6 of them out of more than 400 total ratings. Supplemental AR at 3. These appeared in two CCASS reports--one in
the area of quality, four in the area of effectiveness of management/business
relations, and one in the area of compliance with labor standards. Id. All three past performance subfactors
contemplated the presence of a few negative remarks or statements of
dissatisfaction under the respective definitions of very good. AR, Tab 11.
Thus, SSEB’s overall evaluation of ASSC’s past performance as very good
under all three subfactors was in no way inconsistent with the few unfavorable
remarks in the CCASS reports, and we find no basis for objecting to it.
In a related argument, SKE
asserts that the evaluation was flawed because the SSA was not specifically apprised
of ASSC’s negative CCASS ratings.
Consolidated Comments at 21. In
the protester’s view, had the SSA “looked behind” the very good ratings, he
would have concluded that SKE’s past
performance was superior to ASSC’s. Id. This argument is without merit. The record shows that the SSA was clearly
aware that ASSC’s very good past performance rating was based on some
satisfactory, good, and fair CCASS ratings.
AR, Tab 15 at 9. While he was not
specifically advised of each poor rating, in view of ASSC’s otherwise superior
PPQ and CCASS ratings, there simply is no reason to believe that awareness of
those few isolated ratings (6 out of more than 400 total ratings) would have
resulted in a different source selection.
In this regard, as discussed above, SKE’s
proposal was reasonably evaluated as inferior to ASSC’s under two subfactors,
one of which--timeliness--fell under past performance, the most important of
the non-price factors.
The protest is denied.
Gary L. Kepplinger