B-169928(1), AUG. 18, 1970

B-169928(1): Aug 18, 1970

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AWARD MADE 135 DAYS AFTER ISSUANCE OF REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS AND AFTER EVALUATION OF TECHNICAL QUALIFICATIONS OF OFFERORS IS NOT SUBJECT TO OBJECTIONS SINCE RECORD DOES NOT SHOW THAT ANY FIRM WAS PREJUDICED BY DELAY OR THAT DETERMINATION WAS ARBITRARY OR CAPRICIOUS. INCORPORATED: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTERS DATED MAY 15. THIS DECISION IS LIMITED TO RFP NO. F-41609-70-R-0030 FOR A RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CONTRACT ON A COST-PLUS-FIXED-FEE BASIS ENTITLED "DEVELOPMENT OF CAREER MOTIVATIONAL PREDICTION AND SELECTION PROCEDURES" WAS ISSUED ON JANUARY 5. THE 42 POTENTIAL SOURCES ORIGINALLY SOLICITED 17 PROPOSALS WERE RECEIVED BY THE FEBRUARY 3. IT IS REPORTED THAT THE EVALUATION PANEL FOUND 14 PROPOSALS TO BE TECHNICALLY ACCEPTABLE.

B-169928(1), AUG. 18, 1970

BID PROTEST -- EVALUATION -- DELAY DENIAL OF PROTEST FOR UNUSUAL DELAY IN AWARD OF COST-PLUS-FIXED-FEE CONTRACT FOR DEVELOPMENT OF CAREER MOTIVATION PREDICTION AND SELECTION PROCEDURES BY AIR FORCE SYSTEMS COMMAND. AWARD MADE 135 DAYS AFTER ISSUANCE OF REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS AND AFTER EVALUATION OF TECHNICAL QUALIFICATIONS OF OFFERORS IS NOT SUBJECT TO OBJECTIONS SINCE RECORD DOES NOT SHOW THAT ANY FIRM WAS PREJUDICED BY DELAY OR THAT DETERMINATION WAS ARBITRARY OR CAPRICIOUS.

TO RESEARCH ASSOCIATES, INCORPORATED:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTERS DATED MAY 15, 1970, AND JULY 10, 1970, FORWARDED HERE, PROTESTING WITH REGARD TO REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS (RFP) NOS. F41609-70-R-0030 AND F41609-70-R-0034 ISSUED BY THE AIR FORCE SYSTEMS COMMAND. THIS DECISION IS LIMITED TO RFP NO. F41609-70-R 0030.

RFP NO. F-41609-70-R-0030 FOR A RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CONTRACT ON A COST-PLUS-FIXED-FEE BASIS ENTITLED "DEVELOPMENT OF CAREER MOTIVATIONAL PREDICTION AND SELECTION PROCEDURES" WAS ISSUED ON JANUARY 5, 1970. THE 42 POTENTIAL SOURCES ORIGINALLY SOLICITED 17 PROPOSALS WERE RECEIVED BY THE FEBRUARY 3, 1970, CLOSING DATE. IT IS REPORTED THAT THE EVALUATION PANEL FOUND 14 PROPOSALS TO BE TECHNICALLY ACCEPTABLE. IN RANKING THE PROPOSALS IN DESCENDING ORDER OF MERIT, THE PANEL RATED RESEARCH ASSOCIATES' PROPOSAL ELEVENTH. THE CONTRACTING OFFICER DETERMINED THE FOLLOWING THREE PROPOSALS TO BE WITHIN A COMPETITIVE PRICE RANGE:

TECHNICAL ESTIMATED SOURCE RATING PRICE RESEARCH ASSOCIATES 11 $22,392.40 SOUTHWEST RESEARCH INSTITUTE 4 23,672.00 ANACAPA SCIENCES 3 25,573.00 IT IS REPORTED THAT A COST-PLUS-FIXED-FEE CONTRACT WAS AWARDED TO SOUTHWEST RESEARCH INSTITUTE AND WAS SIGNED ON MAY 13, 1970.

YOU ALLEGE "THERE HAS BEEN UNNECESSARY AND UNUSUAL DELAY IN MAKING THESE AWARDS, TO THE DETRIMENT OF BOTH THE GOVERNMENT AND OUR COMPANY." IN THIS REGARD, WE QUOTE FROM THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S STATEMENT INCLUDED IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT:

"(FINDING) ONE HUNDRED THIRTY-FIVE DAYS HAD ELAPSED FROM THE DATE THE RFP WAS ISSUED TO THE DATE OF THE PROTEST. WHILE THIS SUBSTANTIALLY EXCEEDS NORMAL PROCESSING TIME, IT IN NO WAY IS PREJUDICIAL TOWARD RESEARCH ASSOCIATES ANYMORE THAN OTHER SOURCES. THE DELAY RESULTED PRIMARILY FROM THE LARGE NUMBER OF PROPOSALS (17) WHICH REQUIRED SUBSTANTIAL EVALUATION TIME, AND EXTENSIVE NEGOTIATION TIME."

YOU FURTHER STATE THAT NO "LEGAL, TECHNICAL, OR PRACTICAL REASON EXISTS TO JUSTIFY" AN AWARD TO ANY OTHER FIRM AND ALLEGE THAT YOUR PROPOSALS WERE LOW, RESPONSIVE, AND RESPONSIBLE. AS INDICATED ABOVE, YOUR PROPOSAL WAS THE LOWEST ESTIMATED PRICE. HOWEVER, THE CHIEF OF THE PERSONNEL RESEARCH DIVISION, AIR FORCE HUMAN RESOURCES LABORATORY (AFSC) RECOMMENDED AS FOLLOWS:

"2. THE PURPOSE OF THIS RFP IS 'TO DEVELOP A MOTIVATIONAL MEASURE WHICH CAN BE USED TO SCREEN APPLICANTS FOR TRAINING LEADING TO COMMISSIONS AS AIR FORCE OFFICERS TO INSURE THAT THOSE WHOSE INTEREST IS AN AIR FORCE CAREER IS LOW ARE NOT SELECTED FOR TRAINING.' THIS IS NOT A NEW GOAL. RATHER, PAST EFFORTS - CONVENTIONAL APPROACHES - HAVE FAILED TO PRODUCE MOTIVATIONAL MEASURES WHICH SATISFACTORILY MEET TODAY'S NEEDS. THEREFORE, WE SEEK SUCCESSFUL INNOVATION. THIS MAKES THE SPECIFIC EXPERIENCE, TECHNICAL ORGANIZATION, AND UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROBLEM BY THE BIDDER ESPECIALLY SIGNIFICANT.

"3. IN THESE PROPOSALS, ANACAPA SCIENCES HAS THE BEST SPECIFIC EXPERIENCE. THE COMPANY PROPOSES TO USE DR. DOUGLAS H HARRIS AS PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR WITH ASSISTANCE BY DR JAMES MCGRATH. BOTH ARE INDUSTRIAL PSYCHOLOGISTS. THEY HAVE HAD EXTENSIVE EXPERIENCE WITH BROAD CROSS- SECTIONS OF INDUSTRY AND GOVERNMENT. SOUTHWEST RESEARCH WOULD ALSO USE TWO PHDS ON THE CONTRACT. THE PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR HOLDS ALL DEGREES IN PSYCHOLOGY. THE OTHER HAS DEGREES IN LIBERAL ARTS AND CIVIL ENGINEERING PLUS POST DOCTORATE WORK IN PROBABILITY AND STATISTICS. WHILE HE HAS HAD EXTENSIVE GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE, THE SOUTHWEST PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR LACKS THE INDUSTRIAL EXPERIENCE OF HIS ANACAPA COUNTERPART. RESEARCH ASSOCIATES WOULD USE AS PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR AN INDIVIDUAL WITH A MASTER'S DEGREE IN PSYCHOLOGY. THE COMPLEMENTING SCIENTIST WOULD HAVE SIMILAR QUALIFICATIONS. CONSULTING WOULD BE AVAILABLE FROM A PHD IN PSYCHOLOGY PLUS AN MA IN EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY. EXPERIENCE WITH NON-AIR FORCE AGENCIES IS MORE LIMITED THAN THAT OF THE ANACAPA OR SOUTHWEST COUNTERPARTS.

"4. TECHNICAL ORGANIZATION OF SOUTHWEST RESEARCH IS BY FAR THE BEST OF THE THREE BIDDERS. THE COMPANY HAS A MULTI-DISCIPLINARY STAFF AND COMPUTER SUPPORT NOT AVAILABLE FROM ANACAPA OR RESEARCH ASSOCIATES. THE MULTI-DISCIPLINARY STAFF SHOULD ENHANCE CHANCES FOR CONSTRUCTIVE INNOVATION. COMPUTER SUPPORT AS SOUTHWEST WOULD USE IT SHOULD BROADEN COVERAGE OF LITERATURE SEARCH COMPARED TO OTHER BIDDERS.

"5. UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROBLEM IS EQUALLY GOOD BETWEEN SOUTHWEST AND ANACAPA. RESEARCH ASSOCIATES IS RATED LOWER.

"6. THE DOLLAR DIFFERNCE BETWEEN THESE BIDS IS SMALL. ALL ARE REACHABLE WITH PROGRAMMED FUNDS. THE SOUTHWEST BID IS $1,280 MORE THAN THE RESEARCH ASSOCIATES BID. ANACAPA HAS BID $1,901 MORE THAN SOUTHWEST. SINCE INNOVATION SHOULD BE CRITICAL TO SUCCESS OF THIS EFFORT, THE TECHNICAL SUPERIORITY OF BOTH SOUTHWEST AND ANACAPA OUTWEIGHS THE SLIGHT DOLLAR ADVANTAGE OF RESEARCH ASSOCIATES.

"7. I RECOMMEND THAT A CONTRACT BE COMPLETED WITH EITHER SOUTHWEST RESEARCH OR ANACAPA SCIENCES." IT IS THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S OPINION THAT THE SMALL DOLLAR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RESEARCH ASSOCIATES' PROPOSAL AND THAT OF SOUTHWEST RESEARCH INSTITUTE WAS MORE THAN OFFSET BY THE TECHNICAL DIFFERENCES DESCRIBED ABOVE. IT IS REPORTED THAT PRICE AND OTHER FACTORS CONSIDERED, IT WAS DETERMINED THAT AWARD TO SOUTHWEST RESEARCH INSTITUTE WAS MORE ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT.

ARMED SERVICES PROCUREMENT REGULATION (ASPR) 3-805.2 PROVIDES, IN PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"3-805.2 COST-REIMBURSEMENT TYPE CONTRACTS. IN SELECTING THE CONTRACTOR FOR A COST-REIMBURSEMENT TYPE CONTRACT, ESTIMATED COSTS OF CONTRACT PERFORMANCE AND PROPOSED FEES SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS CONTROLLING, SINCE IN THIS TYPE OF CONTRACT ADVANCE ESTIMATES OF COST MAY NOT PROVIDE VALID INDICATORS OF FINAL ACTUAL COSTS. THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT THAT COST -REIMBURSEMENT TYPE CONTRACTS BE AWARDED ON THE BASIS OF EITHER (1) THE LOWEST PROPOSED COST, (2) THE LOWEST PROPOSED FEE, OR (3) THE LOWEST TOTAL ESTIMATED COST PLUS PROPOSED FEE. THE AWARD OF COST-REIMBURSEMENT TYPE CONTRACTS PRIMARILY ON THE BASIS OF ESTIMATED COSTS MAY ENCOURAGE THE SUBMISSION OF UNREALISTICALLY LOW ESTIMATES AND INCREASE THE LIKELIHOOD OF COST OVERRUNS. THE COST ESTIMATE IS IMPORTANT TO DETERMINE THE PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTOR'S UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROJECT AND ABILITY TO ORGANIZE AND PERFORM THE CONTRACT, *** " ASPR 4-106.4 PROVIDES THAT RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CONTRACTS SHOULD GENERALLY BE AWARDED TO THOSE ORGANIZATIONS WHICH HAVE THE HIGHEST COMPETENCE IN THE SPECIFIC FIELD INVOLVED.

THE SELECTION OF EVALUATION CRITERIA AND THE DETERMINATION OF THE RELATIVE IMPORTANCE ATTACHED TO EACH FACTOR ARE PRIMARILY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PROCURING ACTIVITY, ESPECIALLY WHEN TECHNICAL EVALUATIONS WHICH REQUIRE THE EXERCISE OF SUBJECTIVE JUDGMENT ARE INVOLVED. AS STATED ABOVE, ASPR 3-805.2 SPECIFICALLY STATES THAT THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT THAT COST-REIMBURSEMENT TYPE CONTRACTS BE AWARDED ON THE BASIS OF THE LOWEST TOTAL ESTIMATED COST. IT APPEARS THAT THE AWARD WAS MADE ONLY AFTER A THOROUGH EVALUATION OF PROPOSALS, PRICE AND OTHER FACTORS CONSIDERED. BASED ON THE RECORD BEFORE US, WE CANNOT CONCLUDE THAT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S DETERMINATION THAT AWARD TO SOUTHWEST RESEARCH WAS MOST ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT WAS ARBITRARY OR CAPRICIOUS OR OTHERWISE IN VIOLATION OF PROCUREMENT REGULATIONS. ACCORDINGLY, YOUR PROTEST IS DENIED.