B-311403, DIT-MCO International Corporation, June 18, 2008
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.
Protest that agency failed to conduct an adequate best value analysis is denied where award was made to the lower priced of two technically equal proposals and the protester does not timely challenge either the underlying technical or price evaluations; in a negotiated procurement with a best value evaluation award methodology, where selection officials reasonably regard proposals as being essentially equal technically, price properly may become the determining factor in making award, notwithstanding that the solicitation assigned price less importance than technical factor.
DIT-MCO International Corporation protests the Department of the Navy’s award of a contract to Eclypse International Corporation, under request for proposals (RFP) No. N68335-06-R-0133, for automatic wire test sets (AWTS). DIT-MCO asserts that the agency failed to conduct an adequate best value analysis in connection with its award decision.
The solicitation provided for award of an
indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract, with an ordering period of 5
years, to the offeror whose proposal was determined to represent the “best
value” when evaluated under four factors:
technical, past performance, experience and price. Technical was slightly more important than
past performance, which was slightly more important than experience; technical,
past performance and experience together were “significantly more important
than price.” RFP at 60. However, the RFP further advised that the
importance of price “will increase with the degree of equality of the proposals
in relation to the other factors on which selection is based.”
Four timely proposals were received in response to the
RFP, including those of the protester and the awardee. After conducting discussions with the
offerors and obtaining final proposal revisions, the Navy determined that
Eclypse’s proposal represented the best value.
In this regard, while the agency evaluated Eclypse’s and DIT-MCO’s
proposals as essentially equal under the non-price factors, with both proposals
receiving overall technical ratings of satisfactory/low risk, as well as very
low risk ratings for past performance and experience, the agency initially
calculated the price of DIT-MCO’s proposal as $29,605,110, nearly $6 million
higher than the $23,668,807 evaluated price of Eclypse’s proposal. Agency Report (AR) exh. 4, Source Selection
Evaluation Board Memorandum; AR exh. 5, Source Selection Advisory Council
Memorandum; AR exh. 6, Source Selection Authority Memorandum,
Subsequently, during the Navy’s
On February 19, DIT-MCO filed an agency-level protest with the Navy, maintaining that the agency’s best value source selection decision was arbitrary because the initial decision had been based on an inaccurate, much larger price difference, and the agency had failed to perform an adequate best value determination after recalculating the evaluated prices. In connection with its review of the protest, the agency prepared another source selection document that affirmed its award to Eclypse. AR exh. 8. After its agency-level protest was denied on March 12, DIT‑MCO filed this protest with our Office on March 20.
DIT-MCO asserts that the Navy improperly failed to perform
an adequate source selection analysis using the recalculated evaluated
prices. Noting that the agency’s
original source selection decision was based on the mistaken understanding that
Eclypse’s price was approximately 25 percent lower than DIT-MCO’s, when in fact
the actual price difference was only approximately 3 percent in favor of
Eclypse, the protester maintains that the agency then improperly failed to make
“a best value analysis that weighed, compared and assessed the technical, past
performance and experience benefits and weaknesses of each offer against the
price” as correctly recalculated.
We find the protester’s position to be without merit. Again, the record reflects that the Navy determined Eclypse’s and DIT-MCO’s proposals to be essentially equal under the non-price factors, with “[t]he technical evaluation team [finding] nothing during their review of the proposals that would distinguish between DIT-MCO and Eclypse based on the [AWTS] unit that they are offering.” AR exh. 4, at 2.
Although the record indicates that DIT-MCO was advised by
the Navy during the February 12 postaward debriefing that both its
proposal and Eclypse’s had received the same ratings under the non-price
factors, with no discernible technical differences in the proposed equipment,
Agency Report, Apr. 17, 2008, at 4, the protester did not challenge the
technical evaluation results in its initial, agency-level protest. Rather, DIT‑MCO first challenged the
technical evaluation in its March 20 protest to our Office, when it asserted
that the awardee’s proposed product failed to meet the RFP requirements
relating to size and weight, and that the evaluation improperly failed to
account for DIT‑MCO’s advantages in this area and with respect to AC
dielectic testing. Under our Bid Protest
Regulations, however, protests other than those based on alleged solicitation
improprieties generally must be filed no later than 10 calendar days after the
protester knew, or should have known, of the basis for protest, whichever is
earlier. 4 C.F.R. 21.2(a)(2)
(2008). Since DIT‑MCO has made no
showing that its challenge to the technical evaluation was based on new
information learned after the debriefing and thus could not have been raised in
its agency-level protest, its failure to raise this protest ground within 10
days of the debriefing in its agency-level protest renders untimely the subsequent
assertion of this protest ground in its protest to our Office. Foundation Eng’g Scis., Inc., B-292834, B‑292834.2,
While the protester is correct that agencies must
adequately document cost/technical tradeoff decisions, detailing the relative
strengths and weaknesses of the various proposals and explaining the reasons
underlying a cost/technical tradeoff, Johnson Controls World Servs., Inc.,
B-289942, B-289942.2, May 24, 2002, 2002 CPD para. 88 at
6-7, no cost/technical tradeoff was required here, since the proposals were
determined to be technically equal and the agency made award to the offeror
submitting the lowest priced proposal.
Further, the award was consistent with the terms of the
solicitation. Although the RFP provided
that the non-price evaluation factors were significantly more important than
price, it also provided that, as proposals became more equal under the non‑price
factors, the importance of price would increase. RFP at 60.
In this regard, in a negotiated procurement with a best value evaluation
methodology, where selection officials reasonably regard proposals as being
essentially equal technically, price properly may become the determining factor
in making award, notwithstanding that the solicitation assigned price less
importance than technical factors.
Synergetics, Inc., B-299904,
The protest is denied.
Gary L. Kepplinger