B-180245(1), MAY 9, 1974

B-180245(1): May 9, 1974

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PROTESTER'S CONTENTION THAT SECTION IN RFP SETTING OUT EVALUATION CRITERIA IS VAGUE. MISLEADING AND INCOMPLETE IS UNTIMELY UNDER SECTION 20.2(A) OF GAO'S INTERIM BID PROTEST PROCEDURES. SINCE ALLEGED IMPROPRIETIES WERE APPARENT PRIOR TO CLOSING DATE FOR RECEIPT OF PROPOSALS. GAO CONCURS WITH MARINE CORPS' CONTENTION THAT ALL OFFERORS SHOULD HAVE KNOWN FROM RFP. PREPROPOSAL CONFERENCE AND DISCUSSIONS THAT PERSONNEL CATEGORIES WERE WEIGHTED FOR PURPOSES OF PRICE EVALUATION AND OF OVERWHELMING IMPORTANCE WHICH WOULD BE ACCORDED PERSONNEL QUALIFICATIONS FACTOR IN TECHNICAL EVALUATION. 2. DISCLOSURE OF PRECISE NUMERICAL WEIGHTS ASSIGNED TO FACTORS USED IN EVALUATING PROPOSALS FOR AWARD IS NOT REQUIRED SO LONG AS OFFERORS ARE OTHERWISE INFORMED OF RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF EVALUATION CRITERIA. 3.

B-180245(1), MAY 9, 1974

1. PROTESTER'S CONTENTION THAT SECTION IN RFP SETTING OUT EVALUATION CRITERIA IS VAGUE, MISLEADING AND INCOMPLETE IS UNTIMELY UNDER SECTION 20.2(A) OF GAO'S INTERIM BID PROTEST PROCEDURES, SINCE ALLEGED IMPROPRIETIES WERE APPARENT PRIOR TO CLOSING DATE FOR RECEIPT OF PROPOSALS. GAO CONCURS WITH MARINE CORPS' CONTENTION THAT ALL OFFERORS SHOULD HAVE KNOWN FROM RFP, PREPROPOSAL CONFERENCE AND DISCUSSIONS THAT PERSONNEL CATEGORIES WERE WEIGHTED FOR PURPOSES OF PRICE EVALUATION AND OF OVERWHELMING IMPORTANCE WHICH WOULD BE ACCORDED PERSONNEL QUALIFICATIONS FACTOR IN TECHNICAL EVALUATION. 2. DISCLOSURE OF PRECISE NUMERICAL WEIGHTS ASSIGNED TO FACTORS USED IN EVALUATING PROPOSALS FOR AWARD IS NOT REQUIRED SO LONG AS OFFERORS ARE OTHERWISE INFORMED OF RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF EVALUATION CRITERIA. 3. OFFERORS SHOULD BE INFORMED OF BROAD SCHEME OF SCORING TO BE EMPLOYED AND RELATIVE WEIGHT OF FACTORS TO BE USED IN EVALUATING PROPOSALS FOR AWARD. ALTHOUGH APPROPRIATE METHOD FOR DISCLOSING RELATIVE WEIGHTS IS TO LIST EVALUATION FACTORS IN DESCENDING ORDER OF IMPORTANCE, THIS MAY NOT SUFFICIENTLY NOTIFY OFFERORS IN CASE WHERE ONE FACTOR'S WEIGHT CONSTITUTES 72 PERCENT OF TOTAL WEIGHT ASSIGNED TO FIVE LISTED FACTORS. IN CONSONANCE WITH ASPR 3-501(D)(I), PREDOMINANT VALUE ACCORDED FIRST FACTOR SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISCLOSED IN RFP. MOREOVER, GENERAL RELATIONSHIP OF REMAINING FACTORS TO EACH OTHER COULD HAVE BEEN DESCRIBED IN NARRATIVE. 4. ON BASIS OF RECORD, GAO WILL NOT SUBSTITUTE ITS JUDGMENT FOR THAT OF MARINE CORPS WITH REGARD TO LATTER'S ESTABLISHMENT AND APPLICATION OF WEIGHTING FOR PERSONNEL CATEGORIES FOR PURPOSES OF EVALUATING PRICE PROPOSALS FOR AWARD, SINCE IT HAS NOT BEEN CLEARLY AND CONVINCINGLY SHOWN THAT AGENCY'S ACTIONS WERE UNREASONABLE. PROTESTER'S UNSOLICITED MANNING ESTIMATES DO NOT BIND GOVERNMENT, NOR DO THEY NECESSARILY DRAW INTO QUESTION AGENCY'S WEIGHTING FORMULA ESTABLISHED PRIOR TO RFP'S ISSUANCE. 5. THERE IS NO CONCRETE EVIDENCE ON RECORD INDICATING THAT DURING DISCUSSIONS, MARINE CORPS PROVIDED PROTESTER WITH INFORMATION REGARDING RFP'S REQUIREMENTS WHICH WAS INCONSISTENT WITH WEIGHT ACTUALLY ASSIGNED TO PRICE EVALUATION FACTORS. THEREFORE, SINCE RECORD DOES NOT SHOW THAT ANY OFFEROR WAS PROVIDED ANY INFORMATION CONCERNING RFP'S REQUIREMENTS WHICH WAS NOT MADE KNOWN TO ALL OFFERORS, GAO BELIEVES DISCUSSIONS WERE MEANINGFUL AND THAT PROTESTER WAS NOT PREJUDICED BY CONDUCT OF DISCUSSIONS. 6. MARINE CORPS ACTED REASONABLY, WITHIN ITS BROAD DISCRETION AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH RFP'S SPECIFICATIONS IN DIMINISHING PROTESTER'S TECHNICAL SCORE, DUE TO ITS OFFERED STUDY LEADER'S LACK OF SPECIFIC EXPERIENCE IN CONVERTING MANUAL WAR GAMES INTO COMPUTERIZED WAR GAMES AND ITS FAILURE TO OFFER A SOCIOLOGIST. 7. GAO CANNOT OBJECT TO FACT THAT CHAIRMAN OF PROPOSAL EVALUATION TEAM FOR RFP AND INCUMBENT CONTRACTOR SHARED SAME OFFICE, SINCE MARINE CORPS HAS FOUND THAT PROXIMITY WAS NECESSARY FOR PROPER PERFORMANCE OF PREDECESSOR CONTRACT FOR WHICH CHAIRMAN WAS PROJECT OFFICER, SINCE BASIC EVALUATION OF PROPOSALS WAS PERFORMED BY OTHER MARINE CORPS OFFICERS, SINCE THERE IS NO EVIDENCE SHOWING ANY IMPROPER INTERFLOW OF INFORMATION, AND SINCE THERE IS NO REGULATION PROHIBITING ARRANGEMENT.

TO BDM SERVICES COMPANY:

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP) M00027-74-R-0006, ISSUED BY THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS (USMC), QUANTICO, VIRGINIA, ON AUGUST 31, 1973, SOLICITED TECHNICAL AND PRICE PROPOSALS FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF ORDERS FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT STUDIES, ANALYSES AND SERVICES. THE RFP CONTEMPLATED THE AWARD OF A BASIC ORDERING AGREEMENT UNDER WHICH ORDERS WOULD BE ISSUED FOR THE FOLLOWING SPECIFIC ITEMS OF WORK SET FORTH IN SECTION E OF THE RFP:

0001 LONG RANGE STUDIES AND ANALYSES

0002 FIREPOWER AND GENERAL STUDIES AND ANALYSES

0003 LOGISTICS STUDIES AND ANALYSES

0004 COMMAND, CONTROL, COMMUNICATIONS AND MANPOWER STUDIES AND ANALYSES

0005 REQUIREMENTS DOCUMENTATION

0006 WAR GAMING

THE PROPOSALS WERE TO BE EVALUATED IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION D OF THE RFP, WHICH STATES IN PART:

EVALUATION OF PROPOSALS

"THE GOVERNMENT INTENDS TO MAKE A SINGLE AWARD FOR ITEMS 0001 THROUGH 0007 OF THIS SOLICITATION. SHOULD THERE BE NO PROPOSAL WHICH IS ACCEPTABLE IN REGARD TO ALL THE ITEMS, IT WILL BE NECESSARY TO MAKE MULTIPLE AWARDS. EMPHASES WILL BE MADE TO MINIMIZE THE NUMBER OF AWARDS. THE COMBINATION OF AWARDS WILL BE THAT WHICH BEST SERVES THE INTERESTS OF THE GOVERNMENT. PROPOSALS WILL BE EVALUATED AS FOLLOWS:

1. THE PROPOSALS WILL BE EVALUATED TECHNICALLY AGAINST THE FOLLOWING FIVE FACTORS WHICH ARE SET FORTH IN ORDER OF THEIR PRIORITY, THE FIRST BEING THE MOST IMPORTANT.

A. PERSONNEL QUALIFICATIONS:

B. CORPORATE EXPERIENCE:

C. MANAGEMENT PLAN:

D. AVAILABLE TECHNIQUES OR TOOLS:

E. QUALITY OF THE PROPOSAL:

"2. THE PRICE PROPOSAL AND TECHNICAL PROPOSAL WILL BE GIVEN EQUAL CONSIDERATION IN EVALUATION FOR AWARD."

AN EXPLANATION OF EACH OF THE TECHNICAL FACTORS WAS PROVIDED.

NUMERICAL WEIGHTS WERE TO BE UTILIZED AS AN AID IN EVALUATING THE PROPOSALS. THE NUMERICAL WEIGHTS ATTACHED TO THE TECHNICAL EVALUATION FACTORS LISTED IN SECTION D OF THE RFP WERE AS FOLLOWS:

PERSONNEL QUALIFICATIONS 72

CORPORATE EXPERIENCE 12

MANAGEMENT PLAN 9

AVAILABLE TECHNIQUES OR TOOLS 4

QUALITY OF THE PROPOSAL 3

IN DETERMINING THE NUMERICAL SCORE FOR PERSONNEL QUALIFICATIONS IN THE TECHNICAL EVALUATION, THE RELEVANT PERSONNEL CATEGORIES WERE WEIGHTED AS FOLLOWS:

1XX STUDY LEADER/PROJECT LEADER 1

2XX SENIOR OPERATIONS RESEARCH ANALYST 2

3XX OPERATIONS RESEARCH ANALYST 4

5XX TECHNICAL/RESEARCH ASSISTANT 4

FOR EVALUATION OF THE PRICE PROPOSALS, THE PERSONNEL CATEGORIES WERE WEIGHTED AS FOLLOWS:

1XX STUDY LEADER/PROJECT LEADER 1

2XX SENIOR OPERATIONS RESEARCH ANALYST 2

3XX OPERATIONS RESEARCH ANALYST 4

400 OPERATIONS RESEARCH ANALYST TRAINEE 2

5XX TECHNICAL/RESEARCH ASSISTANT 4

600 EDITOR/WRITER 1

700 CLERK/TYPIST 4

ALL OF THE WEIGHTS SET OUT ABOVE HAD BEEN ESTABLISHED PRIOR TO THE ISSUANCE OF THE RFP; HOWEVER, THE WEIGHTS WERE NOT DISCLOSED TO THE OFFERORS.

IN RESPONSE TO THE RFP, PROPOSALS WERE RECEIVED FROM THE POTOMAC GENERAL RESEARCH GROUP (PGRG), WHICH WAS THE INCUMBENT CONTRACTOR; BDM SERVICES COMPANY (BDM); BOOZ-ALLEN APPLIED RESEARCH (BAAR) AND OPERATIONS RESEARCH, INC. (ORI). IN ITS INITIAL EVALUATION OF THE PRICE AND TECHNICAL PROPOSALS, THE USMC DETERMINED THAT EACH OF THE FOUR PROPOSALS RECEIVED WAS TECHNICALLY "UNACCEPTABLE AS IS BUT BY REASONABLE DISCUSSION WITH THE OFFEROR COULD BE MADE ACCEPTABLE." DISCUSSIONS WERE THEN CONDUCTED AND REVISED PROPOSALS WERE SUBMITTED BY THE FOUR OFFERORS. THE USMC MADE A TECHNICAL EVALUATION OF THE REVISED PROPOSALS AND DETERMINED THAT ALL OFFERS WERE TECHNICALLY ACCEPTABLE, SUBJECT TO MINOR CLARIFICATION OR CONFIRMATION. ACCORDINGLY, ON NOVEMBER 2, 1973, ALL OFFERORS WERE REQUESTED TO SUBMIT THEIR BEST AND FINAL OFFERS WITH THE REQUESTED CLARIFYING OR CONFIRMING INFORMATION. BY NOVEMBER 12, 1973, ALL OFFERORS HAD SUBMITTED THEIR BEST AND FINAL OFFERS. AT THIS TIME, THE PRICE PROPOSALS WERE AGAIN EVALUATED.

THE RESULTS OF THE EVALUATION OF THE BEST AND FINAL OFFERS ARE SUMMARIZED AS FOLLOWS:

NORMALIZED NORMALIZED

TECHNICAL PRICE FINAL FINAL

OFFEROR SCORE PRICE SCORE SCORE RANK DIFFERENCE

PGRG 100 $172.17 100 10,000 1

BDM 93.45 $179.31 96.02 8,973 2 10.27%

BAAR 80.94$252.37 68.22 5,522 4 44.78%

ORI 86.89 $247.94 69.85 6,069 3 39.31%

ACCORDINGLY, AWARD OF BASIC ORDERING AGREEMENT M00027-74-A-0042 WAS MADE TO PGRG ON NOVEMBER 30, 1973. DEBRIEFINGS WERE THEN CONDUCTED WITH THE UNSUCCESSFUL OFFERORS. SUBSEQUENTLY, BDM BY LETTER DATED DECEMBER 11, 1973, PROTESTED TO OUR OFFICE AGAINST THE AWARD TO PGRG.

BDM'S FIRST CONTENTION IS THAT SECTION "D" OF THE RFP IS VAGUE, MISLEADING AND INCOMPLETE, THEREBY MAKING IT DIFFICULT FOR ANY OFFEROR TO KNOW BY WHAT STANDARDS ITS PROPOSAL WOULD BE JUDGED. BDM ALLEGES THAT INASMUCH AS THE ONLY STATEMENT IN SECTION "D" WHICH REFERS TO THE PRICE PROPOSALS IS THAT THE PRICE PROPOSALS WILL BE GIVEN EQUAL CONSIDERATION WITH THE TECHNICAL PROPOSALS IN EVALUATION FOR AWARD, THE OFFERORS HAD NO REAL KNOWLEDGE OF HOW THEIR PRICE PROPOSALS WOULD BE EVALUATED IN THE ABSENCE OF SOME SPECIFICITY AS TO THE WEIGHTING FACTORS TO BE USED. BDM FURTHER STATES THAT THE WEIGHTS APPLIED IN THE TECHNICAL EVALUATION COVERED SUCH A WIDE RANGE OF VALUES AS TO BE COMPLETELY UNFORSEEABLE TO THE OFFERORS. FOR EXAMPLE, TO SAY "THE FIRST (FACTOR IS) *** MOST IMPORTANT" GIVES NO HINT THAT THE FIRST FACTOR IS TO BE GIVEN 6 TIMES THE WEIGHT OF THE SECOND FACTOR AND 24 TIMES THE WEIGHT OF THE FIFTH FACTOR.

WE BELIEVE THAT BDM'S CONTENTIONS CONCERNING THE ADEQUACY OF THE EVALUATION CRITERIA ARE UNTIMELY UNDER SECTION 20.2(A) OF OUR INTERIM BID PROTEST PROCEDURES AND STANDARDS SINCE THE ALLEGED IMPROPRIETIES WERE APPARENT PRIOR TO THE CLOSING DATE FOR RECEIPT OF INITIAL PROPOSALS. ALSO, SEE 50 COMP. GEN. 565, 576 (1971); B-177278, APRIL 19, 1973. THIS REGARD, WE CONCUR WITH THE USMC'S CONTENTION THAT "FROM A READING OF THE RFP AS A WHOLE, IT WOULD APPEAR THAT AN OFFEROR COULD REASONABLY HAVE ESTIMATED THAT THE OVERWHELMING WEIGHT WAS ASSIGNED TO PERSONNEL QUALIFICATIONS." WE BELIEVE IT IS EVIDENT THAT THE RFP'S EMPHASIS WAS ON THE QUALIFICATIONS OF THE PERSONNEL TO BE USED IN PERFORMING THE VARIED, BUT NOT YET SPECIFICALLY DEFINED WORK ORDERS. MOREOVER, IN THE PRESENTATION BY THE USMC AT THE PREPROPOSAL CONFERENCE HELD ON SEPTEMBER 11, 1973, AT WHICH BDM WAS REPRESENTED, PARTICULAR EMPHASIS WAS PLACED ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PERSONNEL QUALIFICATIONS FACTOR IN THE EVALUATION OF THE PROPOSALS. ALSO, THE OVERWHELMING IMPORTANCE OF THE QUALIFICATIONS OF THE PROPOSED CONTRACT PERSONNEL WAS STRESSED DURING THE DISCUSSIONS CONDUCTED WITH THE OFFERORS. SIMILARLY AT THE PREPROPOSAL CONFERENCE THE OFFERORS WERE PLACED ON NOTICE THAT FOR PURPOSES OF THE PRICE EVALUATION THE DIFFERENT LABOR CATEGORIES IDENTIFIED IN THE RFP WOULD BE WEIGHTED.

HOWEVER, ONE POSITION OF THE USMC REQUIRES FURTHER COMMENT. THE USMC MAINTAINS THAT ITS DISCLOSURE OF THE EVALUATION CRITERIA WAS IN ACCORDANCE WITH ARMED SERVICES PROCUREMENT REGULATION (ASPR) 3 501(D)(I)(DEFENSE PROCUREMENT CIRCULAR #110, MAY 30, 1973), WHICH STATES:

"(I) FACTORS OTHER THAN PRICE (INCLUDING TECHNICAL QUALITY WHERE TECHNICAL PROPOSALS OR QUOTATIONS ARE REQUESTED), WHICH WILL BE GIVEN PARAMOUNT CONSIDERATION IN THE AWARDING OF THE CONTRACT; WHEN AN AWARD IS TO BE BASED UPON TECHNICAL AND OTHER FACTORS, IN ADDITION TO PRICE OR COST, THE SOLICITATION SHALL CLEARLY INFORM OFFERORS OF (I) THE SIGNIFICANT EVALUATION FACTORS, AND (II) THE RELATIVE ORDER OF IMPORTANCE THE GOVERNMENT ATTACHES TO PRICE AND ALL SUCH OTHER FACTORS. NUMERICAL WEIGHTS, WHICH MAY BE EMPLOYED IN THE EVALUATION OF PROPOSALS, SHALL NOT BE DISCLOSED IN SOLICITATIONS;"

WE HAVE CONSISTENTLY HELD THAT WHILE OFFERORS SHOULD BE INFORMED OF THE RELATIVE WEIGHT OR IMPORTANCE ATTACHED TO THE EVALUATION CRITERIA, THE DISCLOSURE OF THE PRECISE NUMERICAL WEIGHTS TO BE USED IN THE EVALUATION PROCESS IS NOT REQUIRED. 50 COMP. GEN. 788, 792 (1971); 50 COMP. GEN. 565, 575 (1971); B-170449(1), NOVEMBER 17, 1970. THEREFORE, WE DO NOT OBJECT TO THE PROHIBITION IN ASPR 3-501(D)(I) AGAINST THE DISCLOSURE OF PRECISE NUMERICAL WEIGHTS.

NEVERTHELESS, IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN OUR POSITION THAT OFFERORS SHOULD BE INFORMED OF "THE BROAD SCHEME OF SCORING TO BE EMPLOYED" AND GIVEN "REASONABLY DEFINITE INFORMATION AS TO THE DEGREE OF IMPORTANCE TO BE ACCORDED TO PARTICULAR FACTORS IN RELATION TO EACH OTHER." 49 COMP. GEN. 229 (1969); 50 COMP. GEN. 59 (1970); 50 COMP. GEN. 246 (1970); 51 COMP. GEN. 153 (1971). WE HAVE RECOGNIZED THAT AN APPROPRIATE METHOD OF DISCLOSING THE RELATIVE WEIGHTS OF THE EVALUATION CRITERIA IS TO LIST THE EVALUATION FACTORS IN DESCENDING ORDER OF IMPORTANCE OR PRIORITY. 173199, B-172673, FEBRUARY 22, 1972; B-170449(1), SUPRA; 50 COMP. GEN. 390, 411-412 (1970); 50 COMP. GEN. 788, 792 (1971). HOWEVER, UNDER SOME CIRCUMSTANCES LISTING THE EVALUATION FACTORS IN RELATIVE ORDER OF IMPORTANCE WILL NOT SUFFICE TO EVEN INFORM THE OFFERORS OF THE BROAD BASIS ON WHICH THEIR PROPOSALS ARE TO BE EVALUATED. E.G., B-170449(2), NOVEMBER 17, 1970.

HERE THE FIRST OF THE FIVE EVALUATION FACTORS LISTED IN RELATIVE ORDER OF IMPORTANCE CONSTITUTED 72 PERCENT OF THE TOTAL TECHNICAL EVALUATION SCORE AND WAS 6 TIMES THE WEIGHT OF THE SECOND FACTOR AND 24 TIMES THE WEIGHT OF THE FIFTH FACTOR. WE BELIEVE THAT IN CONSONANCE WITH ASPR 3-501(D)(I), THE PREDOMINANT VALUE ACCORDED THE FIRST FACTOR SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISCLOSED TO THE OFFERORS. MOREOVER, WE BELIEVE THE GENERAL RELATIONSHIP OF THE REMAINING FACTORS TO EACH OTHER COULD HAVE BEEN DESCRIBED IN NARRATIVE WITHOUT VIOLATING THE PROHIBITION AGAINST DISCLOSURE OF PRECISE NUMERICAL WEIGHTS IN ASPR 3-501(D)(I). AS A MATTER OF SOUND PROCUREMENT POLICY, THE FULLEST POSSIBLE DISCLOSURE OF ALL OF THE EVALUATION FACTORS AND THEIR RELATIVE IMPORTANCE IS TO BE PREFERRED TO RELIANCE ON THE REASONABLENESS OF THE OFFERORS' JUDGMENT AS TO THE RELATIVE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE VARIOUS EVALUATION FACTORS.

BDM ALSO CONTENDS THAT THE WEIGHTING OF PERSONNEL CATEGORIES BY THE USMC FOR PRICE EVALUATION UNDER THE RFP WAS ARBITRARY, CAPRICIOUS, AND UNREALISTIC. WE BELIEVE THAT THIS CONTENTION IS TIMELY UNDER OUR INTERIM BID PROTEST PROCEDURES. ALTHOUGH THE OFFERORS WERE AWARE THAT THE DIFFERENT LABOR CATEGORIES WERE WEIGHTED, WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT AN INQUIRY BEFORE THE CLOSING DATE FOR RECEIPT OF PROPOSALS WOULD HAVE ELICITED SUFFICIENT INFORMATION TO QUESTION THE REASONABLENESS OF THE WEIGHTING IN VIEW OF THE PROHIBITION IN ASPR 3-501(D)(I) AGAINST DISCLOSURE OF THE PRECISE NUMERICAL WEIGHTS UTILIZED.

BDM NOTES THAT ITS PRICE PROPOSAL WAS LOWER THAN PGRG'S PROPOSAL IN SIX OF THE SEVEN PERSONNEL CATEGORIES. BDM ALLEGES THAT PGRG'S TOTAL EVALUATED PRICE IS ONLY LOWER THAN BDM'S PRICE BECAUSE OF THE UNREASONABLY ASSIGNED WEIGHT OF 2 GIVEN TO PERSONNEL CATEGORY 2XX, SENIOR OPERATIONS RESEARCH ANALYST.

IN SUPPORT OF ITS CONTENTIONS IN THIS REGARD, BDM FIRST STATES THAT A COMPARISON OF THE WEIGHTS ASSIGNED TO THE PERSONNEL CATEGORIES WITH HISTORICAL DATA, RFP INFORMATION OR PROPOSED CONTENT SHOWS THAT FACTORS UNRELATED TO PRICE WERE CONSIDERED IN THIS WEIGHTING.

BDM FURTHER NOTES THAT ITS ORIGINAL PRICE PROPOSAL WAS BASED UPON THE ASSUMPTION THAT IT WOULD PROVIDE 86 MEN OVER A ONE YEAR PERIOD. OF THESE MEN ONLY 6 WERE IN CATEGORY 2XX, SHOWN AS WORKING 960 HOURS. BDM COMPARES THIS TO ITS PROPOSAL FOR CATEGORY 1XX CONSISTING OF 10 MEN, SHOWN AS WORKING 18,880 HOURS. BDM NOTES THAT THESE PROPOSED MANNING RATIOS WERE NOT SUBJECT TO ANY ADVERSE COMMENT BY THE USMC DURING THE DISCUSSIONS. BDM CONCLUDES THAT IT WAS THEREFORE UNREASONABLE FOR THE WEIGHT ASSIGNED TO CATEGORY 2XX PERSONNEL TO BE TWICE THAT ASSIGNED TO CATEGORY 1XX PERSONNEL.

THE VARIOUS FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED IN THE POINT EVALUATION OF PRICE PROPOSALS AND THE RELATIVE WEIGHTS TO BE ASSIGNED TO EACH FACTOR ARE MATTERS PRIMARILY FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE CONTRACTING AGENCY, AND OUR OFFICE WILL NOT SUBSTITUTE ITS JUDGMENT FOR THAT OF THE AGENCY UNLESS IT IS CLEARLY AND CONVINCINGLY SHOWN THAT THE AGENCY'S ACTIONS IN ESTABLISHING AND APPLYING SUCH FACTORS AND WEIGHTS ARE ARBITRARY, CAPRICIOUS OR NOT REASONABLY SUPPORTABLE BY THE FACTS. 50 COMP. GEN. 565, 574 (1971); B-173951, FEBRUARY 8, 1972. IN THE PRESENT CASE, THE USMC'S ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT OF JANUARY 15 CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS: "*** THE MARINE CORPS CONSIDERED THAT THERE WOULD BE A MIX OF THE LABOR CATEGORIES TO PERFORM THE ORDERS UNDER THE BASIC ORDERING AGREEMENT. THEREFORE, THE MULTIPLIERS *** WERE DEVELOPED FOR EVALUATION. THE MARINE CORPS CONSIDERS THAT TWO HOURS OF CATEGORY 2XX (SENIOR OPERATIONS ANALYST) TO EACH HOUR OF CATEGORY 1XX (STUDY LEADER/PROJECT MANAGER) IS REASONABLE AND BASED ON SOUND JUDGMENT. IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT EVEN WITHOUT THE APPLICATION OF THE MULTIPLIERS, BDMSC'S TOTAL RATE IS $79.47 TO POTOMAC GENERAL RESEARCH GROUP'S $78.68."

FROM OUR REVIEW OF THE RECORD, WE CANNOT DISAGREE WITH THE USMC'S DETERMINATIONS IN THIS REGARD, NOR CAN WE SAY THAT THE USMC'S WEIGHTING OF THE PERSONNEL CATEGORIES FOR PRICE EVALUATION PURPOSES WAS UNREASONABLE. MOREOVER, THERE IS NO INDICATION IN THE RECORD THAT FACTORS UNRELATED TO PRICE WERE CONSIDERED IN THIS WEIGHTING. MOREOVER, IT IS CLEAR THAT BDM'S UNSOLICITED HYPOTHETICAL MANNING ESTIMATES IN NO WAY BIND THE GOVERNMENT, NOR DO THEY NECESSARILY DRAW INTO QUESTION THE USMC'S WEIGHTING OF THE PERSONNEL CATEGORIES FORMULATED PRIOR TO THE ISSUANCE OF THE RFP.

BDM NEXT CONTENDS THAT IT WAS PREJUDICED BY THE USMC'S CONDUCT OF THE NEGOTIATIONS. BDM ALLEGES THAT DURING ITS DISCUSSIONS FOLLOWING THE REVIEW OF ITS INITIAL PROPOSAL, THE USMC PERSONNEL ADVISED BDM THAT THE GOVERNMENT WAS LOOKING FOR, IN CATEGORY 2XX, MEN OF NATIONALLY-KNOWN REPUTATION, WHO WOULD BE USED AS SHORT-TERM CONSULTANTS, AND THAT BDM COULD NOT HOPE TO RECEIVE AN AWARD UNLESS IT UPGRADED ITS CATEGORY 2XX PERSONNEL. BDM FURTHER STATES THAT MEN OF THE CALIBER CONTEMPLATED WOULD BE UNAVAILABLE FOR WORK CONTINUING OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME. THEREFORE, BDM ALLEGES, AS A RESULT OF THESE DISCUSSIONS, IT SUBSTITUTED NATIONALLY- KNOWN SCIENTISTS FOR THE PERSONNEL REJECTED AS UNSATISFACTORY BY THE USMC AND NECESSARILY REVISED ITS PRICE FOR CATEGORY 2XX PERSONNEL FROM $20.60 PER HOUR TO $34.62 PER HOUR. BDM STATES THAT IT WAS ONLY TOLD LATER DURING THE DEBRIEFINGS THAT THE USMC WAS LOOKING FOR ABOUT 10 MAN-YEARS OF EFFORT IN THIS CATEGORY. BDM STATES THAT PGRG MUST HAVE RECEIVED DIFFERENT INFORMATION THAN BDM DURING THESE DISCUSSIONS, IN VIEW OF THE PERSONNEL WHICH PGRG OFFERED AT A LOWER PRICE. BDM CONCLUDES THAT THESE DISCUSSIONS COULD THEREFORE HARDLY BE TERMED "MEANINGFUL."

WITH REGARD TO BDM'S SPECIFIC CONTENTIONS REGARDING THE CONTENT OF THE DISCUSSIONS, THE USMC STATES THAT IT DID NOT TELL THE OFFERORS DURING THE DISCUSSIONS THAT CATEGORY 2XX PERSONNEL WERE REQUIRED TO BE MEN OF NATIONALLY-KNOWN REPUTATION AND THAT BDM MUST UPGRADE ITS CATEGORY 2XX PERSONNEL TO THAT LEVEL IN ORDER TO RECEIVE AN AWARD, OR THAT CATEGORY 2XX PERSONNEL WOULD ONLY BE USED AS SHORT-TERM CONSULTANTS. THE USMC DOES SAY THAT IT DID MENTION DURING THE DISCUSSIONS THAT MEN OF NATIONALLY-KNOWN REPUTATION WOULD SUFFICE TO MEET CATEGORY 2XX'S REQUIREMENTS, BUT THAT IT WENT ON TO CAUTION THAT SUCH MEN MAY BE NO LONGER AVAILABLE FOR THIS RFP. THE USMC ALSO STATES THAT IT DID MENTION DURING THE DISCUSSIONS THAT CATEGORY 2XX PERSONNEL WOULD BE USED ON INDIVIDUAL CONSULTING PROJECTS IN ADDITION TO THEIR "CONSULTING ON STUDIES" WORK WITH PROJECT TEAMS. THE USMC ALSO SPECIFICALLY DENIES THAT IT DECLARED ANY OF BDM'S OFFERED CATEGORY 2XX PERSONNEL UNSATISFACTORY OR THAT IT TOLD BDM THAT IT HAD TO UPGRADE ITS OFFERED CATEGORY 2XX PERSONNEL IN ORDER TO RECEIVE AN AWARD. THE USMC DOES STATE THAT IT DID POINT OUT THAT THERE WERE GAPS IN BDM'S PROPOSED CATEGORY 2XX PERSONNEL WHICH MUST BE FILLED.

THE USMC FURTHER DENIES THAT IT TOLD BDM THAT IT WAS LOOKING FOR 10 MAN- YEARS OF EFFORT FROM CATEGORY 2XX PERSONNEL. INDEED, THE USMC INSISTS THAT IT REALLY HAS NO WAY OF KNOWING THE SPECIFIC MAN-HOUR MAKEUP OF THE ORDERS PLACED PURSUANT TO THE RFP.

WE HAVE FOUND NO CONCRETE EVIDENCE ON THE RECORD WHICH WOULD TEND TO REFUTE THE USMC'S STATEMENTS REGARDING THE CONTENT OF THE DISCUSSIONS OR DEBRIEFINGS. IN FACT, OUR REVIEW OF THE USMC'S TECHNICAL EVALUATION MINUTES TENDS TO SUPPORT THE USMC'S POSITION IN THIS REGARD.

WITH REGARD TO BDM'S CONTENTIONS REGARDING THE GENERAL CONDUCT OF THE DISCUSSIONS UNDER THE RFP, THE USMC HAS ASSERTED THAT "NO OFFEROR WAS MADE PRIVY TO ANY INFORMATION IN REGARD TO THE REQUIREMENTS THAT WAS NOT MADE KNOWN TO ALL OFFERORS." ALSO, BY LETTER DATED JANUARY 10, 1974, PGRG HAS SPECIFICALLY DENIED THAT IT RECEIVED ANY SPECIAL INFORMATION. WE CAN FIND NO EVIDENCE ON THE RECORD WHICH WOULD CONTRADICT THESE ASSERTIONS.

ACCORDINGLY, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, WE CANNOT SAY THAT THE DISCUSSIONS CONDUCTED WERE NOT "MEANINGFUL" OR THAT BDM WAS PREJUDICED BY THE DISCUSSIONS. SEE 52 COMP. GEN. 393 (1972); B-177861(1), JULY 13, 1973.

BDM ALSO QUESTIONS PGRG'S ABILITY TO FURNISH MEN OF THE CALIBER CONTEMPLATED BY THE RFP AND STATES THAT THE USMC WILL HAVE TO TAKE SEPARATE CONTRACT ACTION TO OBTAIN THEM. HOWEVER, THE USMC HAS STATED THAT IT HAS A BINDING AGREEMENT WITH PGRG AND FULLY EXPECTS PGRG TO PROVIDE THE CALIBER OF PERSONNEL SHOWN ON ITS RESUMES AND THAT THEREFORE NO SEPARATE CONTRACT ACTION WILL BE REQUIRED. BDM HAS PRESENTED NO EVIDENCE WHICH WOULD CAUSE US TO DOUBT THE USMC'S STATEMENT IN THIS REGARD.

BDM ALSO CONTENDS THAT THE USMC ACTED IMPROPERLY IN NOT EVALUATING FOUR AREAS OF ITS REVISED TECHNICAL PROPOSAL (WORTH 28 OUT OF 100 POINTS). HAVE REVIEWED THE USMC'S TECHNICAL EVALUATION OF THE REVISED PROPOSALS AND HAVE FOUND THAT ONLY THE EVALUATION OF THE "QUALITY OF THE PROPOSAL" FACTOR (WORTH 3 POINTS) WAS LIMITED TO THE INITIAL PROPOSAL, AND THAT ALL OTHER AREAS WERE REEVALUATED WHERE NEW DATA HAD BEEN FURNISHED IN THE REVISED PROPOSAL.

BDM ALSO ALLEGES THAT THE USMC INTRODUCED INTO THE EVALUATION CERTAIN FACTORS NOT PRESENT IN AND INCONSISTENT WITH THE RFP. SPECIFICALLY, BDM MAKES REFERENCE TO THE LOW SCORE GIVEN TO THE "WAR GAMING" STUDY LEADER BDM PROPOSED IN ITS TECHNICAL PROPOSAL BECAUSE OF HIS LACK OF SPECIFIC EXPERIENCE IN CONVERTING MANUAL WAR GAMES INTO COMPUTERIZED WAR GAMES. ALSO, BDM REFERS TO THE USMC'S DIMINISHING BDM'S TECHNICAL SCORE FOR "LONG RANGE STUDIES AND ANALYSES" BECAUSE BDM'S PROPOSED STAFF DID NOT INCLUDE A SOCIOLOGIST.

WE BELIEVE THAT THE USMC ACTED REASONABLY, WITHIN ITS BROAD DISCRETION AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RFP'S SPECIFICATIONS IN GIVING A LOWER SCORE TO BDM'S TECHNICAL PROPOSAL DUE TO ITS STUDY LEADER'S LACK OF SPECIFIC EXPERIENCE IN CONVERTING MANUAL WAR GAMES INTO COMPUTERIZED WAR GAMES. FEEL THAT THIS EVALUATION FACTOR IS WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF SECTION F, PARAGRAPH II, SUBPARAGRAPH 4 OF THE RFP WHICH SYNOPSIZES THE WORK ENTAILED UNDER THE "WAR GAMING" ITEM OF THE RFP. SUBPARAGRAPH 4 STATES IN PART:

"DEVELOP METHODOLOGY, PROCEDURES AND TECHNIQUES FOR WAR GAMING IN SUPPORT OF R&D STUDIES AND ANALYSES ***."

MOREOVER, SECTION F, PARAGRAPH III, SUBPARAGRAPH 34(B)(6) LISTS AS A REPRESENTATIVE TASK CONTEMPLATED UNDER THIS ITEM OF THE RFP:

"INVESTIGATE ADVISABILITY OF AND, IF ADOPTED, DEVELOP PROCEDURES FOR CONVERSION OF PRESENT MANUAL LFWG TO A COMPUTER-ASSISTED WAR GAME."

WITH REGARD TO THE USMC'S DIMINISHMENT OF BDM'S TECHNICAL SCORE FOR "LONG RANGE STUDIES AND ANALYSES" DUE TO ITS LACK OF A SOCIOLOGIST, WE ALSO BELIEVE THAT THE USMC ACTED REASONABLY, WITHIN ITS BROAD DISCRETION AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RFP'S REQUIREMENTS. IN THIS REGARD, SECTION F, PARAGRAPH III, SUBPARAGRAPH 1(A) STATES THAT A TASK CONTEMPLATED UNDER THIS ITEM OF THE RFP INCLUDES:

"A. LONG RANGE FORECASTING TO PROJECT TRENDS IN POPULATION, SOCIOLOGICAL FACTORS, ***"

BDM NEXT POINTS TO THE ADVICE IN THE USMC'S LETTER OF NOVEMBER 30, 1973, TO THE UNSUCCESSFUL OFFERORS THAT IT AWARDED THE CONTRACT TO "THE LOWEST RESPONSIVE AND RESPONSIBLE OFFEROR." BDM STATES THAT THIS IS INCONSISTENT WITH THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT IN SECTION C OF THE RFP:

"AWARD WILL BE MADE BASED ON AN OVERALL EVALUATION OF THE TECHNICAL PROPOSAL AND PRICE PROPOSAL WHICH IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT"

THIS CONTENTION HAS NO MERIT. THE USMC MADE THE AWARD TO PGRG BECAUSE ITS TECHNICAL PROPOSAL RECEIVED THE HIGHEST SCORE AND ITS PRICE PROPOSAL OFFERED THE LOWEST EVALUATED PRICE. THE USMC'S LANGUAGE IN ITS NOTICE OF AWARD IN NO WAY EFFECTS THIS FACT.

BDM FINALLY TAKES EXCEPTION TO THE FACT THAT DURING THE PERIOD EXTENDING FROM THE ISSUANCE OF THE RFP TO THE DATE OF AWARD, THE LOCAL MANAGER OF PGRG, THE INCUMBENT CONTRACTOR, SHARED THE SAME OFFICE WITH THE USMC OFFICER, WHO WAS THE CHAIRMAN OF THE PROPOSAL EVALUATION TEAM. THIS OFFICER WAS ALSO THE PROJECT OFFICER FOR THE PREDECESSOR CONTRACT WITH PGRG. BDM STATES THAT THIS CLOSE PROXIMITY WOULD NECESSARILY CAUSE AN INTERFLOW OF IDEAS AND INFORMATION. BDM FURTHER STATES THAT THIS SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES STRONGLY SUGGESTS AN ADVANTAGE TO THE INCUMBENT CONTRACTOR BEYOND THAT WHICH NORMALLY AND NATURALLY ACCRUES TO AN INCUMBENT CONTRACTOR.

THE USMC STATES THAT THIS PROXIMITY WAS NECESSARY FOR THE PROPER PERFORMANCE OF THE PREDECESSOR CONTRACT. ALSO, IT STATES THAT THE PROJECT OFFICER SCRUPUOUSLY AVOIDED PERFORMING ANY OF THE WORK CONNECTED WITH THE RFP IN THIS OFFICE. IT ALSO SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE BASIC TECHNICAL EVALUATIONS WERE NOT PERFORMED BY THIS OFFICER, BUT RATHER WERE PERFORMED BY OTHER USMC OFFICERS, AND THAT THE WEIGHTINGS FOR THE TECHNICAL AND PRICE EVALUATIONS HAD BEEN ESTABLISHED PRIOR TO THE RFP'S ISSUANCE. ALSO, AS PREVIOUSLY INDICATED, PGRG DENIES RECEIVING SPECIAL INFORMATION. MOREOVER, BDM HAS NOT SUBMITTED ANY EVIDENCE WHICH INDICATES ANY IMPROPRIETY ON THE OFFICER'S PART, OR ANY SPECIFIC INSTANCE OF IMPROPER INTERFLOW OF INFORMATION. FINALLY, WE CAN FIND NO REGULATION WHICH WOULD PROHIBIT THIS ARRANGEMENT. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, WE CANNOT OBJECT TO THIS OFFICE ARRANGEMENT.

ACCORDINGLY, BDM'S PROTEST IS DENIED.