B-176373, AUG 17, 1972

B-176373: Aug 17, 1972

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THE PROCURING AGENCY CONCLUDED THAT TECHPLAN'S BID WAS NOT ACCEPTABLE ALTHOUGH IT WAS FOUND TO BE "MARGINALLY QUALIFIED.". WHETHER A PROPOSAL IS TECHNICALLY ACCEPTABLE IS A MATTER OF JUDGMENT FOR THE PROCURING AGENCY AND THERE IS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR GAO TO OBJECT TO AN AGENCY'S FINDINGS UNLESS THERE IS A CLEAR SHOWING THAT THE AGENCY ACTED ARBITRARILY. IT WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT THIS INVESTMENT WOULD BE JEOPARDIZED UNLESS PERFORMANCE OF THE SUBJECT CONTRACT BEGAN ON JUNE 26. THE CONTRACT WAS NEGOTIATED PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY OF 10 U.S.C. 2304(A)(2). THE PROCURING AGENCY CONCLUDED THAT YOUR QUOTATION WAS NOT ACCEPTABLE BECAUSE NO PROJECT DIRECTOR EXPERIENCE WAS SHOWN AND IT WAS DOUBTFUL WHETHER TECHPLAN COULD BEGIN PERFORMANCE ON JUNE 26.

B-176373, AUG 17, 1972

BID PROTEST - TECHNICALLY ACCEPTABLE BID DENIAL OF PROTEST BY TECHPLAN CORPORATION AGAINST AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO ANOTHER FIRM UNDER AN RFP ISSUED BY THE DEFENSE SUPPLY SERVICE, WASHINGTON, D.C., FOR ANALYSIS AND EVALUATION OF THE WORLDWIDE UTILITY COMMAND AND CONTROL SYSTEM DURING HIGH HEELS 73. BECAUSE OF TIME CONSTRAINTS AND THE STANDARDS OF PERFORMANCE REQUIRED, THE PROCURING AGENCY CONCLUDED THAT TECHPLAN'S BID WAS NOT ACCEPTABLE ALTHOUGH IT WAS FOUND TO BE "MARGINALLY QUALIFIED." WHETHER A PROPOSAL IS TECHNICALLY ACCEPTABLE IS A MATTER OF JUDGMENT FOR THE PROCURING AGENCY AND THERE IS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR GAO TO OBJECT TO AN AGENCY'S FINDINGS UNLESS THERE IS A CLEAR SHOWING THAT THE AGENCY ACTED ARBITRARILY, CAPRICIOUSLY OR IN BAD FAITH. 49 COMP. GEN. 309 (1969).

TO TECHPLAN CORPORATION:

YOUR LETTERS OF JUNE 28 AND JULY 13, 1972, YOUR REFERENCE P72-09/01 02, PROTEST AGAINST AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO ANOTHER FIRM UNDER REQUEST FOR QUOTATIONS (RFQ) DAHC15-72-Q-0069, ISSUED JUNE 15, 1972, BY THE DEFENSE SUPPLY SERVICE (DSS), WASHINGTON, D.C., PURSUANT TO A REQUISITION DATED JUNE 9, 1972, FROM THE WEAPONS SYSTEMS EVALUATION GROUP (WSEG), TO OBTAIN ANALYSIS AND EVALUATION OF THE WORLDWIDE MILITARY COMMAND AND CONTROL SYSTEM DURING EXERCISE HIGH HEELS 73.

BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT HAD EXPENDED A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF TIME, EFFORT AND FUNDS ON EXERCISE HIGH HEELS 73, IT WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT THIS INVESTMENT WOULD BE JEOPARDIZED UNLESS PERFORMANCE OF THE SUBJECT CONTRACT BEGAN ON JUNE 26, 1972. CONSEQUENTLY, THE CONTRACT WAS NEGOTIATED PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY OF 10 U.S.C. 2304(A)(2), WHICH PROVIDES FOR NEGOTIATED PROCUREMENTS IN THE CASE OF A PUBLIC EXIGENCY. RFQS DISTRIBUTED TO FOUR FIRMS INCLUDING TECHPLAN CORPORATION (TECHPLAN) CALLED FOR QUOTATIONS ON JUNE 21, 1972, IN ORDER TO ALLOW A TECHNICAL EVALUATION ON JUNE 22, 1972.

THE PROCURING AGENCY CONCLUDED THAT YOUR QUOTATION WAS NOT ACCEPTABLE BECAUSE NO PROJECT DIRECTOR EXPERIENCE WAS SHOWN AND IT WAS DOUBTFUL WHETHER TECHPLAN COULD BEGIN PERFORMANCE ON JUNE 26, 1972, WITH A FULL TECHPLAN COMPLEMENT. TECHPLAN'S QUOTATION WAS RATED MARGINALLY QUALIFIED BUT UNACCEPTABLE TO PERFORM THE CONTRACT. THE QUOTATIONS OF TWO OTHER FIRMS WERE RATED ACCEPTABLE AND THEY WERE GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO REVISE THEIR PRICES BUT BOTH DECLINED. A CONTRACT WAS AWARDED ON JUNE 23, 1972, TO LIBRA CONSULTING SERVICES (LIBRA) WITH AN EFFECTIVE DATE OF JUNE 26, 1972.

YOU CONTEND THAT YOUR QUOTATION IS TECHNICALLY ACCEPTABLE AND THE FAILURE TO RATE THE QUOTATION ACCEPTABLE WAS BASED ON INADEQUATE CONSIDERATION OF TECHPLAN'S PRIOR EXPERIENCE INCLUDING EXPERIENCE IN RELATED COMMAND AND CONTROL FIELDS. FURTHER, YOU ARGUE THAT EVEN IF TECHPLAN'S PROPOSAL WAS CONSIDERED TECHNICALLY DEFICIENT IT WAS SUSCEPTIBLE TO BEING MADE ACCEPTABLE THROUGH NEGOTIATIONS. IN THIS CONNECTION, YOU CONTEND THAT SUCH NEGOTIATIONS SHOULD HAVE BEEN CONDUCTED AS DISCUSSIONS WERE HELD WITH TWO OTHER FIRMS AND TECHPLAN'S PROPOSAL WAS THE LOWEST PRICED.

DSS REPORTS THAT THE SELECTION OF TECHPLAN TO PARTICIPATE IN COMPETITION FOR THE SUBJECT CONTRACT WAS BASED IN PART ON TECHPLAN'S RELATED COMMAND AND CONTROL FIELD EXPERIENCE. THE EXPERIENCE EVALUATION FACTOR ACCOUNTED FOR FIFTY PERCENT OF THE EVALUATION SCORE AND CONSISTED OF EVALUATING PRIOR AND RECENT HIGH HEELS EXERCISE EXPERIENCE AS WELL AS EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE IN WORLDWIDE MILITARY COMMAND AND CONTROL SYSTEMS. THE REMAINING FIFTY PERCENT OF THE EVALUATION SCORE WAS TO BE DETERMINED FROM EVALUATING THE AVAILABILITY AND COMPETENCE OF EXPERIENCED PERSONNEL, UNDERSTANDING THE SCOPE OF WORK AND THE WILLINGNESS TO DEVOTE RESOURCES WITH DILIGENCE. THE EVALUATION TEAM CONSISTED OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE VARIOUS ARMED SERVICES AND EACH EVALUATOR WAS PROVIDED WITH AND INSTRUCTED TO USE DSS "GUIDE FOR EVALUATION OF TECHNICAL PROPOSALS." BASED ON THE RECORD THIS OFFICE BELIEVES THAT THE EVALUATION CRITERIA AND PROCESS AFFORDED AN IMPARTIAL EVALUATION ON THE MERITS OF THE QUOTATIONS.

THE PROPOSALS WERE EVALUATED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE EVALUATION CRITERIA SPECIFIED IN THE RFQ, WITH PARTICULAR EMPHASIS ON THE FOLLOWING:

"(A) EXPERIENCE IN THE SPECIFIC BRANCH OF SCIENCE OR TECHNOLOGY INVOLVED:

(1) HIGH HEELS

(I) PRIOR EXPERIENCE IN THE DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT AND ANALYSIS

(II) RECENT EXPERIENCE IN THE DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT AND ANALYSIS

(2) WORLDWIDE MILITARY COMMAND AND CONTROL SYSTEM.

(I) EXTENSIVE EXPERIENCE

(II) KNOWLEDGE OF SYSTEM

"(B) AVAILABILITY AND COMPETENCE OF EXPERIENCED PERSONNEL

(1) AVAILABILITY

(I) PHYSICAL AVAILABILITY ON 26 JUNE 72

(II) ACTUAL, READY TO GO WORK AVAILABILITY ON 26 JUNE 72

(2) COMPETENCE

(I) DEMONSTRATED EXPERIENCE IN HIGH HEELS EXERCISE, DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT AND ANALYSIS.

(II) RELIABILITY DEMONSTRATED DURING PREVIOUS HIGH HEELS EXERCISES.

"(C) UNDERSTANDING OF THE SCOPE OF WORK

"(D) WILLINGNESS TO DEVOTE RESOURCES TO THE PROPOSED WORK WITH APPROPRIATE DILIGENCE."

THE EVALUATION TEAM CONCLUDED THAT ALTHOUGH TECHPLAN'S PROPOSED WORK TEAM HAD EXPERIENCE IN PRIOR HIGH HEELS EXERCISES, TECHPLAN WAS "MARGINALLY QUALIFIED" BASED ON AN EVALUATION SCORE OF 74.4%, PRIMARILY BECAUSE THERE WAS DOUBT AS TO TECHPLAN'S ABILITY TO BEGIN PERFORMANCE ON JUNE 26, 1972, AS THE TECHPLAN PROPOSED TEAM WAS NOT ACTUALLY FORMED AT THE TIME OF TECHNICAL EVALUATION. THE DIRECTOR OF WSEG REVIEWED THE EVALUATIONS AND CONCLUDED THAT BECAUSE OF TIME CONSTRAINTS AND THE STANDARD OF PERFORMANCE REQUIRED, UTILIZATION OF A MARGINALLY QUALIFIED OFFEROR WAS PRECLUDED. THEREFORE, PRICE NEGOTIATIONS WERE LIMITED TO THE TWO FIRMS CONSIDERED ACCEPTABLE BASED ON EVALUATION SCORES OF 85.0% AND 85.1%. AFTER CONCLUSION OF SUCH NEGOTIATIONS AND PERFORMANCE OF A COST ANALYSIS, LIBRA WAS SELECTED.

WHETHER A PROPOSAL IS TECHNICALLY ACCEPTABLE IS A MATTER OF JUDGMENT FOR THE PROCURING AGENCY AND THERE IS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR THIS OFFICE TO OBJECT TO AN AGENCY'S FINDINGS UNLESS THERE IS A CLEAR SHOWING THAT THE AGENCY ACTED ARBITRARILY, CAPRICIOUSLY OR IN BAD FAITH. 49 COMP. GEN. 309 (1969). THERE HAS BEEN NO SUCH SHOWING IN THE INSTANT CASE. FURTHERMORE, WE SEE NO BASIS FOR OBJECTING TO THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION THAT THE TIME CONSTRAINTS INVOLVED IN THE SUBJECT PROCUREMENT PRECLUDED NEGOTIATIONS RELATING TO THE TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF A MARGINALLY ACCEPTABLE PROPOSAL AND REQUIRED AWARD TO THE OFFEROR RECEIVING THE HIGHEST OVERALL RATING AFTER PRICE NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE TWO HIGHEST RATED OFFERORS.

ACCORDINGLY, YOUR PROTEST IS DENIED.