B-174870(2), JUL 3, 1972

B-174870(2): Jul 3, 1972

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FINDS THAT THE PROPOSAL WAS RATED ON ITS MERITS AND THAT THERE IS NOTHING IN THE RECORD TO INDICATE THAT THE FAA ACTED UNREASONABLY. THE AMOUNT OF TIME ALLOTED TO PREPARE THE PROPOSAL WAS NOT UNDULY RESTRICTED IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THIS WAS NOT A RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECT AND THAT TMC HAD PRIOR EXPERIENCE IN THIS FIELD. MITCHELL & MOORE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 11. TECHNICAL PROPOSALS WERE SUBMITTED BY OCTOBER 20. TMC WAS REQUESTED BY LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 5. THE INFORMATION WAS SUPPLIED AND THE PROPOSAL WAS SUBMITTED FOR TECHNICAL EVALUATION. TMC WAS NOTIFIED BY LETTER DATED DECEMBER 29. THAT THE PROPOSAL WAS TECHNICALLY UNACCEPTABLE DUE TO DEFICIENCIES OR INCOMPLETE PRESENTATIONS IN THE MODULARITY.

B-174870(2), JUL 3, 1972

BID PROTEST - EVALUATION PROCEDURES - COMPETITIVE RANGE - PREPARATION TIME DENIAL OF PROTEST ON BEHALF OF TMC SYSTEMS AND POWER CORPORATION, AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO ANY OTHER BIDDER FOR UNINTERRUPTIBLE POWER SYSTEMS (UPS) UNDER RFP WA4M-1-0622, ISSUED BY THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION. AFTER HAVING REVIEWED THE EVALUATION PROCEDURES AND THE REPORT ON THE TMC PROPOSAL, THE COMP. GEN. FINDS THAT THE PROPOSAL WAS RATED ON ITS MERITS AND THAT THERE IS NOTHING IN THE RECORD TO INDICATE THAT THE FAA ACTED UNREASONABLY. FURTHER, THE AMOUNT OF TIME ALLOTED TO PREPARE THE PROPOSAL WAS NOT UNDULY RESTRICTED IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THIS WAS NOT A RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECT AND THAT TMC HAD PRIOR EXPERIENCE IN THIS FIELD.

TO LEWIS, MITCHELL & MOORE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 11, 1972, CONTAINING THE PROTEST OF TMC SYSTEMS AND POWER CORPORATION (TMC) AGAINST THE AWARD OF CONTRACT TO ANY OTHER FIRM FOR UNINTERRUPTIBLE POWER SYSTEMS (UPS) UNDER REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP) WA4M-1-0622, ISSUED AUGUST 20, 1971, BY THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION (FAA), UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION.

TECHNICAL PROPOSALS WERE SUBMITTED BY OCTOBER 20, 1971. FOLLOWING A PRELIMINARY REVIEW TO INSURE THE ADEQUACY OF AVAILABLE DATA FOR EVALUATION PURPOSES, TMC WAS REQUESTED BY LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 5, 1971, TO SUPPLY INFORMATION RELATING TO ITS EXPERIENCE IN THE UPS FIELD. THE INFORMATION WAS SUPPLIED AND THE PROPOSAL WAS SUBMITTED FOR TECHNICAL EVALUATION. UPON COMPLETION OF THE TECHNICAL EVALUATION, TMC WAS NOTIFIED BY LETTER DATED DECEMBER 29, 1971, THAT THE PROPOSAL WAS TECHNICALLY UNACCEPTABLE DUE TO DEFICIENCIES OR INCOMPLETE PRESENTATIONS IN THE MODULARITY, RELIABILITY, FUNCTIONABILITY AND EXPERIENCE AREAS, AND THAT NO FURTHER NEGOTIATIONS WOULD BE CONDUCTED WITH TMC. FAA AND TMC OFFICIALS HELD A DEBRIEFING CONFERENCE ON JANUARY 19, 1972, AT WHICH TIME THE SPECIFIC REASONS FOR RATING TMC'S PROPOSAL TECHNICALLY UNACCEPTABLE WERE DISCUSSED. A PROTEST TO THIS OFFICE FOLLOWED:

IT IS YOUR CONTENTION THAT TMC'S PROPOSAL WAS TECHNICALLY ACCEPTABLE AND THAT ANY ALLEGED LACK OF DETAIL WAS "CAUSED BY A FAILURE OF THE RFP TO SET OUT HOW MUCH DETAIL WAS REQUIRED." YOU STATE THAT IN THE LIMITED TIME BETWEEN THE ISSUANCE OF THE RFP AND THE SUBMISSION DATE FOR PROPOSALS ONLY A VERY LARGE CONTRACTOR COULD HAVE COMMITTED THE PERSONNEL RESOURCES NECESSARY TO PREPARE A PROPOSAL IN THE DETAIL THE FAA BELIEVES WAS REQUIRED. THUS, YOU ALLEGE, A SMALLER CONTRACTOR, REGARDLESS OF HIS TECHNICAL EXPERTISE, FINANCIAL STRENGTH, ETC., WAS BARRED FROM CONSIDERATION BECAUSE HE COULD NOT MUSTER AS MANY PEOPLE TO PREPARE THE PROPOSAL AS A LARGE CONTRACTOR. IN ADDITION, YOU CONTEND THAT THE LACK OF OBJECTIVE CRITERIA AS TO THE AMOUNT OF PROPOSAL DETAIL REQUIRED CREATED A SITUATION WHERE THE FAA COULD AND DID EVALUATE PROPOSALS RELATIVE TO ONE ANOTHER, RATHER THAN AGAINST AN RFP ESTABLISHED NORM.

FAA BELIEVES THAT THE RFP WAS QUITE EXPLICIT AS TO THE AREAS TO BE ADDRESSED IN THE TECHNICAL PROPOSAL AND THAT IT WAS INCUMBENT UPON EACH OFFEROR TO FURNISH THE AMOUNT OF DETAIL WHICH IT CONSIDERED NECESSARY TO FULLY DEMONSTRATE AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE REQUIREMENTS. IT POINTS TO THE FOLLOWING LANGUAGE IN PART I OF THE RFP:

"THE TECHNICAL PROPOSAL MUST BE SO SPECIFIC, DETAILED AND COMPLETE AS TO CLEARLY AND FULLY DEMONSTRATE THAT THE OFFEROR HAS A THOROUGH UNDERSTANDING OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR, AND THE TECHNICAL PROBLEMS INHERENT IN, THE DESIGN AND MANUFACTURE OF THE EQUIPMENT HERE INVOLVED AND HAS A VALID AND PRACTICAL SOLUTION FOR SUCH PROBLEMS. STATEMENTS THAT THE OFFEROR UNDERSTANDS, CAN OR WILL COMPLY WITH THE SPECIFICATIONS AND STATEMENTS PARAPHRASING THE SPECIFICATIONS OR PARTS THEREOF ARE CONSIDERED INADEQUATE. SUCH PHRASES AS 'STANDARD PROCEDURES WILL BE EMPLOYED' OR 'WELL KNOWN TECHNIQUES WILL BE USED' ARE ALSO CONSIDERED INADEQUATE.

"IT IS NECESSARY THAT THE TECHNICAL PROPOSAL SPECIFICALLY ADDRESS ITSELF TO THE DESIGN, FUNCTION, RELIABILITY, AND MAINTAINABILITY OF THE EQUIPMENT; CORPORATE EXPERIENCE AND ABILITY; AND PRODUCTION PLAN AS DELINEATED IN EXHIBIT B, TECHNICAL EVALUATION CRITERIA."

EXHIBIT B, TECHNICAL EVALUATION CRITERIA, OF THE RFP, DISCUSSED THE AREAS TO BE ADDRESSED ON THE PROPOSAL. IT STATED IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

"THE TECHNICAL PROPOSAL WILL BE EVALUATED ON THE BASIS OF TWO EQUALLY WEIGHTED CATEGORIES; SYSTEM DESIGN AND VENDOR CAPABILITY. EACH CATEGORY IS THEN THRICE DIVIDED TO PRODUCE SIX RATING FACTORS OF EQUAL IMPORTANCE. ANY TECHNICAL PROPOSAL FOUND TO BE UNACCEPTABLE IN ANY ONE RATING FACTOR WILL BE CLASSIFIED AS UNACCEPTABLE AND WILL BE DISALLOWED FROM ANY FURTHER TECHNICAL EVALUATION.

"I. SYSTEM DESIGN

A. MODULARITY - THE UNINTERRUPTIBLE POWER SYSTEM SHALL CONSIST OF A NUMBER OF INDEPENDENT AND IDENTICAL MODULES AS SPECIFIED HEREIN. ***

"II. VENDOR CAPABILITY

A. EXPERIENCE - THE VENDOR MUST DEMONSTRATE THAT HE CURRENTLY POSSESSES THE CAPABILITY AND EXPERTISE TO UNDERTAKE THIS PROJECT AND TO DESIGN, PRODUCE AND DELIVER ON SCHEDULE. THE VENDOR SHALL BE REQUIRED TO PROVE RECENT UPS EXPERIENCE IN THAT HE HAS PREVIOUSLY MANUFACTURED A PARALLEL SYSTEM CONSISTING OF RECTIFIERS, BATTERIES AND TWO OR MORE INVERTERS AND HAS ALSO PREVIOUSLY MANUFACTURED MODULES OF 125 KVA OR LARGER OUTPUT CAPACITY. THIS IS A CRITICAL QUALIFICATION. ANY VENDOR WHO CANNOT FULFILL THIS REQUIREMENT WILL BE GIVEN A ZERO SCORE FOR THE ENITRE EXPERIENCE RATING FACTOR AND WILL THEREBY BE DISQUALIFIED FROM ANY FURTHER CONSIDERATION. ADDITIONALLY, THE VENDOR WILL BE REQUIRED TO PROVE THAT HE CURRENTLY POSSESSES THE TECHNICAL EXPERIENCE IN THAT HE HAS THE ABILITY TO DEMONSTRATE THE WORKABILITY OF ALL ASPECTS OF HIS PROPOSED SCHEME AND CAN SUPPORT ALL CONTENTIONS WITH COMPLETE BACKUP DATA CONSISTING OF NOT LESS THAN RECORDED INFORMATION FROM CURRENTLY OPERATING SYSTEMS OR COMPLETELY ASSEMBLED BREADBOARDS. ***"

WITH RESPECT TO THE TIME ALLOTTED FOR PREPARATION OF PROPOSALS, FAA INSISTS THAT THE TWO MONTHS ALLOWED (AUGUST 20 TO OCTOBER 20, 1971) WAS SUFFICIENT FOR ANY QUALIFIED FIRM, LARGE OR SMALL BUSINESS, TO ASSEMBLE DATA FROM A CURRENTLY OPERATING OR BREADBOARDED SYSTEM AND TO INCLUDE DESCRIPTIONS, DETAILS, AND CIRCUITS INDICATING HOW THE PROPOSED EQUIPMENT WAS TO BE MODIFIED TO CONFORM AND OPERATE TO FAA REQUIREMENTS. IT POINTS OUT THAT THIS PROCUREMENT WAS NOT A RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT EFFORT AND THAT TMC HAS HAD EXPERIENCE WITH UP SYSTEMS. FAA FEELS THAT TMC SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO PRESENT A COMPLETE PROPOSAL WITHIN THE TIME ALLOTTED. WE CAN NOT DISAGREE.

REGARDING THE METHOD OF EVALUATION, FAA REPORTS THAT ALL PROPOSALS WERE EVALUATED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE EVALUATION CRITERIA INDICATED IN EXHIBIT B, AND THAT ONLY AFTER ALL PROPOSALS WERE COMPLETELY AND INDEPENDENTLY EVALUATED AND RATED WERE THEY COMPARED AGAINST EACH OTHER. A "NORMALIZED" VALUE SYSTEM WAS USED UNDER WHICH THE BEST PROPOSAL WAS GIVEN A SCORE OF 100 POINTS AND THE OTHER PROPOSALS WERE RATED AGAINST THIS PROPOSAL. THE BASIS OF PAST EXPERIENCE IN UPS PROCUREMENTS, THE FAA DECIDED THAT A PROPOSAL SHOULD OBTAIN A RATING OF AT LEAST 85 POINTS IN ORDER TO BE CONSIDERED TECHNICALLY ACCEPTABLE. IT WAS ANTICIPATED THAT BODERLINE CASES WOULD BE AVOIDED. TMC RECEIVED A SCORE WHICH FELL WELL BELOW THE ACCEPTABLE CUT-OFF POINT OF 85. WHILE THIS OFFICE HAS OBJECTED TO THE USE OF PREDETERMINED CUT-OFF SCORES TO DETERMINE COMPETITIVE RANGE (50 COMP. GEN. 59 (1970)), WE DO NOT BELIEVE THE FAA SYSTEM OF SCORING CONSTITUTED SUCH A PROCEDURE. IN ANY EVENT, ON THE BASIS OF THE VARIATION IN SCORES, IT DOES NOT APPEAR THAT THE TMC PROPOSAL WOULD HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED WITHIN THE TECHNICAL COMPETITIVE RANGE EVEN IF THE FAA HAD NOT ESTABLISHED A CUT- OFF POINT.

THE MAJOR AREAS WHERE TMC'S PROPOSAL WAS JUDGED TO BE DEFICIENT WERE INDICATED TO TMC AT THE DEBRIEFING CONFERENCE. WE NOTE THAT WHILE THE TMC PROPOSAL WAS CONSIDERED DEFICIENT FOR FAILING TO SUPPLY COMPLETE DATA IN CERTAIN OF THE MAIN AREAS, FAA ALSO FOUND THAT THE PROPOSED EQUIPMENT FAILED TO CONFORM TO THE SPECIFICATIONS IN A NUMBER OF RESPECTS. IT WAS FOUND, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT TMC'S PROPOSED SYSTEM INDICATED THE USE OF CERTAIN WIRING IN LIEU OF AIRCRAFT TYPE WIRING, AS SPECIFIED. IN THERMAL DESIGN, FAA REPORTS THAT WHILE THE RFP REQUIRED THAT THE SYSTEM THERMAL DESIGN BE BASED ON A 15 DEG C RISE WITHIN EACH MODULE, THE TMC PROPOSED CALCULATIONS INDICATED THAT THE DESIGN WAS BASED ON A 25 DEG C RISE. OTHER AREAS OF TECHNICAL NONCONFORMITY WERE OBSERVED AS WELL, INCLUDING THE AREAS OF EFFICIENCY AT FULL LOAD, STORAGE BATTERY POWER AND TRANSFER FROM BY-PASS.

IN VIEW OF THE MAGNITUDE OF THE DEFICIENCIES FOUND IN THE TMC PROPOSAL, AS REFLECTED IN THE LOW SCORE GIVEN TO IT, FAA DETERMINED THAT THE PROPOSAL WAS TECHNICALLY INFERIOR AND THAT MEANINGFUL NEGOTIATIONS COULD NOT BE CONDUCTED WITH THAT FIRM. WE HAVE REVIEWED THE TECHNICAL EVALUATION PROCEDURES AND THE EVALUATION REPORT ON THE TMC PROPOSAL AND FIND THAT THE PROPOSAL WAS RATED ON ITS MERITS, AND FOR THE REASONS STATED ABOVE, IT WAS FOUND TECHNICALLY UNACCEPTABLE. WE FIND NO BASIS TO DISAGREE WITH THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION IN THIS REGARD. 46 COMP. GEN. 606 (1967).

ACCORDINGLY, YOUR PROTEST MUST BE DENIED.