Trailboss Enterprises, Inc.
B-297742, Mar 20, 2006
Trailboss Enterprises, Inc. protests the award of a contract to GCH Services LLC under request for proposals (RFP) No. FA5240-05-R-0015, issued by the Department of the Air Force for transient alert services and supplies at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The protester argues that the agency improperly evaluated its and the awardee's past performance and made an unreasonable award decision.
We deny the protest.
B-297742, Trailboss Enterprises, Inc., March 20, 2006
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.
Trailboss Enterprises, Inc. protests the award of a contract to GCH Services LLC under request for proposals (RFP) No. FA5240-05-R-0015, issued by the Department of the Air Force for transient alert services and supplies at Andersen Air Force Base,
The solicitation, issued
Regarding the past performance evaluation, each technically acceptable offer was to receive a past performance confidence assessment rating based on information provided by the offeror and data independently obtained by the Air Force showing the offeror's past and present performance as it relates to the probability of successfully accomplishing the work under the RFP. This assessment would result in an overall risk rating of exceptional/high confidence, very good/significant confidence, satisfactory/confidence, neutral/unknown confidence, marginal/little confidence, or unsatisfactory/no confidence. The RFP provided that [p]ast performance regarding predecessor companies, key personnel who have relevant experience, or subcontractors that will perform major or critical aspects of the requirement will be considered as past performance information for the principal offeror.
Ten proposals were received by the September 9 amended closing date. Five of the proposals, including Trailboss's and GCH's, were determined to be technically acceptable under the first step evaluation. For the second step past performance evaluation, the agency reviewed the references provided by the offerors and Contractor Performance Assessments Reports obtained by the agency. In making its final selection decision, the source selection authority (SSA) compared the offerors' price and past performance ratings. This review led the SSA to reject three proposals (for reasons unrelated to this protest), leaving GCH's proposal--rated exceptional/high confidence and priced at $1,803,210.00--to be compared to Trailboss's, rated very good/significant confidence and lowest priced at $1,535,800.80. Agency Report (AR), Source Selection Decision Document, Tab 8, at 1. In analyzing Trailboss's past performance, the SSA noted concerns under a prior contract regarding safety of operations, including problems with accountability regarding composite tool kits, unserviceable fire bottles, and failure to follow technical orders.
In its initial letter of protest, Trailboss complains generally that the agency failed to consistently evaluate the past performance information received for Trailboss and GCH. Protest at 2. Trailboss specifically points only to its own evaluation, however, arguing that it was improperly downgraded for past performance because the agency's concerns regarding the firm's problems with the composite tool kits and its failure to follow technical orders significantly overstate what occurred on the project.
In its report on the protest, the agency provided a detailed response to the protester's assertions that the agency had overstated performance problems and misevaluated Trailboss's past performance. In its comments responding to the report, Trailboss did not rebut the agency's position and, indeed, made no mention of its initial assertion that its past performance was improperly downgraded. Where, as here, an agency provides a detailed response to a protester's assertions and the protester either does not respond to the agency's position or provides a response that merely references or restates the original allegation without substantively rebutting the agency's position, we deem the initially-raised arguments abandoned.
Trailboss asserts in its comments on the agency report that GCH's proposal should have been rejected as technically unacceptable because a member of the evaluation team noted on his individual evaluation worksheet that GCH had not met the subfactor for the ability to understand and meet the requirements. Protester's Comments at 2; AR, Evaluation Documents, Tab 6, at 66. Trailboss also argues that the same evaluator's individual evaluation sheets for GCH show that he wavered between not met and met (ultimately indicating met) under the scheduling methodologies subfactor, and notes that handwritten comments critical of GCH were marked out. Protester's Comments at 2. Trailboss concludes that, because the source selection document does not explain these concerns or explain why GCH's proposal was rated acceptable, the proposal should have been rejected.
The agency responded to Trailboss's assertions in a supplemental report, explaining that, while the record does show that individual evaluators had initial concerns with various aspects of GCH's proposal, these concerns were resolved through additional review and discussion among the evaluation team members. Regarding the subfactor for the ability to understand and meet the requirements, the solicitation required that the proposed contract manager have a Federal Aviation Administration Airframe and Power Plant (A&P) license. As noted above, one evaluation team member determined that GCH did not meet this requirement because, as stated on his evaluation sheet, GCH's proposed manager would have an A&P and or military license. AR, Evaluation Documents, Tab 6, at 66. The agency explained that, following discussions among the evaluation team members, it was the consensus that GCH's and/or language was sufficient to meet the requirement, Contracting Officer's Supplemental Statement of Facts, at 1, and therefore did not render GCH's proposal technically unacceptable. Supplemental Report at 2-3; Contracting Officer's Supplemental Statement of Facts, at 1.
In its comments on the agency's supplemental report, Trailboss merely restated its protest argument--that there were critical remarks/evaluations made by an individual evaluation team member that were contrary to the final evaluation scores/ determination, and that these inconsistencies were not explained in the source selection document--without taking specific issue with, or otherwise addressing, the agency's explanation of how it determined that GCH met the licensing requirement. As noted above, we view the mere restatement of a protest argument, without a substantive response to the agency's position, as an abandonment of the issue.
Trailboss argues that GCH's exceptional/high confidence past performance rating was unreasonable because it was based on the performance record of a separate firm, GCA International, Inc. The protester concludes that GCH should have received a neutral past performance rating.
Agencies properly may consider the relevant experience and past performance history of key individuals and predecessor companies in evaluating the past performance of a newly-created company, since that experience may be useful in predicting success in future contract performance. United Coatings, B-291978.2,
Trailboss asserts that the agency did not adequately scrutinize the relationship of the two firms, including the possible change of management, or adequately document its findings and determinations in this regard. However, Trailboss points to nothing in the record suggesting that the novation is invalid or that the agency otherwise improperly attributed GCA's past performance to GCH. Indeed, the agency had no reason to question GCH's representations on the face of its proposal or its explanation of the status of the two companies. We conclude that the evaluation of GCH's past performance was reasonable.
The protest is denied.
Anthony H. Gamboa
 As relevant here, an exceptional/high confidence rating indicated that no doubt exists that the offeror would successfully perform the required effort; a very good/significant confidence rating indicated little doubt exists that the offeror would successfully perform the required effort. RFP at 13.
 The fact that evaluators' individual ratings may differ from the final rating, by itself, does not warrant questioning the evaluation. Agency evaluators may meet to discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of proposals, as was done here, in order to reach a consensus rating, which often differs from the ratings given by individual evaluators, since such discussions are intended to provide evaluators an opportunity to correct mistakes or misperceptions that may have occurred in the initial evaluation. Resource Applications, Inc., B-274943.3,
 Moreover, while the agency thus had no reason to review the novation agreement, it states that, in response to the supplemental protest, it requested and received from the awardee a copy of the novation agreement, dated