B-204552, DEC 15, 1981

B-204552: Dec 15, 1981

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RFP REQUIREMENT - THAT AN OFFEROR MUST SUBMIT A LETTER OF COMMITMENT FOR PROPOSED PERSONNEL NOT PRESENTLY EMPLOYED - WAS SATISFIED BECAUSE THE PERSON PROPOSED IS CURRENTLY EMPLOYED BY A SUBCONTRACTOR. CONTENTIONS - THAT THE AWARDEE'S PROPOSAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN REJECTED BECAUSE PORTIONS OF ITS TECHNICAL APPROACH WERE COPIED FROM THE RFP'S STATEMENT OF WORK AND ITS PROPOSAL DID NOT CONTAIN A REQUIRED DETAILED OUTLINE - ARE WITHOUT MERIT SINCE (1) AWARDEE'S COMPLETE TECHNICAL APPROACH SECTION DEMONSTRATES A SATISFACTORY UNDERSTANDING OF THE REQUIREMENTS AND (2) THE AWARDEE SUBMITTED THE DETAILED OUTLINE OF THE PROPOSED PROGRAM REQUIRED BY THE RFP. 3. PROTESTER CONTENDS THAT THE AWARDEE'S PROPOSAL WAS INCOMPLETE IN FOUR AREAS.

B-204552, DEC 15, 1981

DIGEST: 1. RFP REQUIREMENT - THAT AN OFFEROR MUST SUBMIT A LETTER OF COMMITMENT FOR PROPOSED PERSONNEL NOT PRESENTLY EMPLOYED - WAS SATISFIED BECAUSE THE PERSON PROPOSED IS CURRENTLY EMPLOYED BY A SUBCONTRACTOR, AND THE SUBCONTRACTOR SUBMITTED A LETTER OF COMMITMENT FOR THAT PERSON AND ANOTHER PERSON. 2. CONTENTIONS - THAT THE AWARDEE'S PROPOSAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN REJECTED BECAUSE PORTIONS OF ITS TECHNICAL APPROACH WERE COPIED FROM THE RFP'S STATEMENT OF WORK AND ITS PROPOSAL DID NOT CONTAIN A REQUIRED DETAILED OUTLINE - ARE WITHOUT MERIT SINCE (1) AWARDEE'S COMPLETE TECHNICAL APPROACH SECTION DEMONSTRATES A SATISFACTORY UNDERSTANDING OF THE REQUIREMENTS AND (2) THE AWARDEE SUBMITTED THE DETAILED OUTLINE OF THE PROPOSED PROGRAM REQUIRED BY THE RFP. 3. PROTESTER CONTENDS THAT THE AWARDEE'S PROPOSAL WAS INCOMPLETE IN FOUR AREAS. GAO CONCLUDES THAT THE CONTENTION IS WITHOUT MERIT BECAUSE THE AWARDEE'S PROPOSAL APPEARS TO BE COMPLETE IN THESE AREAS AND THE PROTESTER HAS NOT SHOWN THAT ANY OF THE FOUR AREAS WERE IMPROPERLY EVALUATED BY THE AGENCY.

JOHN T. O'ROURKE & ASSOCIATES:

JOHN T. O'ROURKE & ASSOCIATES (O'ROURKE) PROTESTS THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO HUFFMAN AND ASSOCIATES (HUFFMAN) UNDER REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP) NO. R5-14-81-19, ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FOREST SERVICE, FOR PROFESSIONAL GEOLOGICAL SERVICES TO ENHANCE FISH HABITAT AND OTHER WATERSHED VALUES IN THE SIX RIVERS NATIONAL FOREST. O'ROURKE CONTENDS THAT SINCE HUFFMAN'S PROPOSAL DID NOT COMPLY WITH TWO MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS OF THE RFP AND WAS INCOMPLETE IN FOUR OTHER AREAS, THE FOREST SERVICE DID NOT EVALUATE ALL PROPOSALS FAIRLY. IN VIEW OF THE FOREST SERVICE'S REPORT DOCUMENTING THAT HUFFMAN'S PROPOSAL MET THE MANDATORY RFP REQUIREMENTS AND INCLUDED ADEQUATE INFORMATION IN THE OTHER AREAS, WE CONCLUDE THAT O'ROURKE'S PROTEST IS WITHOUT MERIT.

FIRST, THE RFP PROVIDED THAT IF A PROPOSAL LISTS A PERSON NOT PRESENTLY EMPLOYED, THE OFFEROR MUST FURNISH A LETTER OF COMMITMENT WITH ITS PROPOSAL. O'ROURKE NOTES THAT HUFFMAN PROPOSED A PERSON NOT CURRENTLY EMPLOYED BY HUFFMAN BUT PROVIDED NO LETTER OF COMMITMENT. THE FOREST SERVICE REPORTS THAT THE PERSON IS CURRENTLY EMPLOYED BY A HUFFMAN SUBCONTRACTOR, NORTHCOAST GEOTECHNICAL SERVICES (NGS), AND THE SUBCONTRACTOR PROVIDED A LETTER OF COMMITMENT FOR THAT EMPLOYEE AND ANOTHER EMPLOYEE. O'ROURKE ARGUES THAT SINCE NGS IS NOT ALLOWED TO PRACTICE GEOLOGY IN CALIFORNIA, THE FOREST SERVICE SHOULD HAVE REQUIRED A SEPARATE LETTER FROM EACH EMPLOYEE OF THE PROPOSED SUBCONTRACTOR.

IN OUR VIEW, THE LETTER OF COMMITMENT FROM NGS, AS A SUBCONTRACTOR FOR HUFFMAN, LISTING THE NGS EMPLOYEES WHO WOULD BE INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT IS CLEARLY SUFFICIENT TO SATISFY THE COMMITMENT REQUIREMENT OF THE RFP. THE FACT THAT NGS AS AN ENTITY IS NOT LICENSED TO PRACTICE GEOLOGY DOES NOT AFFECT HUFFMAN'S CAPABILITY TO PERFORM THE WORK THROUGH THE PROFESSIONAL SERVICES OF THE TWO NAMED NGS EMPLOYEES WHO ARE COMMITTED TO THE PROJECT. THUS, THIS ASPECT OF O'ROURKE'S PROTEST IS WITHOUT MERIT.

SECOND, THE RFP PROVIDED THAT OFFERORS MUST SUBMIT A TECHNICAL PROPOSAL; OFFERORS WERE WARNED THAT PROPOSALS MERELY OFFERING TO CONDUCT A PROGRAM IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE RFP'S STATEMENT OF WORK WOULD BE REJECTED. THE RFP EXPRESSLY REQUIRED THAT OFFERORS EXPLAIN THE PROPOSED TECHNICAL APPROACH AND PROVIDE A DETAILED OUTLINE OF THE PROPOSED PROGRAM TO ACCOMPLISH THE WORK STATED IN THE RFP. O'ROURKE CONTENDS THAT HUFFMAN'S PROPOSAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN REJECTED BECAUSE PORTIONS OF HUFFMAN'S TECHNICAL APPROACH WERE COPIED FROM THE RFP'S STATEMENT OF WORK AND HUFFMAN'S PROPOSAL DID NOT CONTAIN THE REQUIRED DETAILED OUTLINE.

IN RESPONSE, THE FOREST SERVICE ADMITS THAT PORTIONS OF HUFFMAN'S PROPOSAL ARE A CLOSE PARAPHRASE OF THE RFP'S STATEMENT OF WORK BUT, IN THE CONTEXT OF HUFFMAN'S COMPLETE TECHNICAL APPROACH SECTION, THE FOREST SERVICE CONTENDS THAT HUFFMAN DEMONSTRATED A SATISFACTORY UNDERSTANDING OF THE REQUIREMENTS. THE FOREST SERVICE PROVIDED OUR OFFICE WITH A COPY OF HUFFMAN'S DETAILED OUTLINE OF ITS PROPOSED TECHNICAL APPROACH, WHICH THE FOREST SERVICE FOUND TO BE SATISFACTORY. HUFFMAN'S PROPOSAL RECEIVED THE HIGHEST TECHNICAL RATING OF THE TEN PROPOSALS EVALUATED.

IN CONSIDERING PROTESTS CONCERNING A PROCURING AGENCY'S EVALUATION OF PROPOSALS, WE RECOGNIZE THAT THE RELATIVE DESIRABILITY OF PROPOSALS AND THE DEGREE TO WHICH PROPOSALS MEET SUBJECTIVE MANDATORY REQUIREMENTS IS LARGELY JUDGMENTAL, PRIMARILY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PROCURING AGENCY, AND NOT SUBJECT TO OBJECTION BY OUR OFFICE UNLESS SHOWN TO BE UNREASONABLE, ARBITRARY, OR VIOLATIVE OF LAW. SEE, E.G., SKYWAYS, INC., B-201541, JUNE 2, 1981, 81-1 CPD 439; DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATES, INC., B-203938, OCTOBER 9, 1981, 81-2 CPD . HERE, OUR REVIEW OF HUFFMAN'S PROPOSAL SUPPORTS THE FOREST SERVICE'S VIEW THAT HUFFMAN SUBMITTED THE REQUIRED DETAILED OUTLINE OF ITS PROPOSED TECHNICAL APPROACH. FURTHER, AFTER CONSIDERING O'ROURKE'S ARGUMENT AND THE FOREST SERVICE'S VIEWS, AND REVIEWING HUFFMAN'S PROPOSAL, WE HAVE NO BASIS TO CONCLUDE THAT HUFFMAN'S PROPOSAL SHOULD BE REJECTED FOR FAILING TO PROPOSE A MEANINGFUL TECHNICAL APPROACH. CLEARLY, HUFFMAN'S PROPOSAL CONSISTED OF SIGNIFICANTLY MORE THAN A MERE REPETITION OF THE RFP'S STATEMENT OF WORK. ACCORDINGLY, THIS ASPECT OF O'ROURKE'S PROTEST IS WITHOUT MERIT.

THIRD, O'ROURKE CONTENDS THAT HUFFMAN'S PROPOSAL WAS INCOMPLETE IN FOUR AREAS. O'ROURKE STATES THAT: (A) THE HUFFMAN PROPOSAL'S ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT SECTIONS ARE INCONSISTENT BY INDICATING THAT TWO PEOPLE ARE GOING TO WORK TOGETHER, YET ONE IS SCHEDULED FOR 30 HOURS AND THE OTHER FOR 198 HOURS; (B) HUFFMAN'S PROPOSAL ADDRESSES "MANAGEMENT AND QUALITY CONTROL DIFFICULTIES" INSTEAD OF THE SUBJECT SET FORTH IN THE RFP, "ANTICIPATED MAJOR DIFFICULTIES AND PROBLEM AREAS, TOGETHER WITH POTENTIAL OF RECOMMENDED APPROACHES FOR THEIR RESOLUTION;" (C) HUFFMAN'S PROPOSAL DOES NOT PROVIDE ADEQUATE INFORMATION TO CHECK REFERENCES; AND (D) THE HUFFMAN'S PROPOSED LITERATURE SEARCH DOES NOT ADDRESS GEOLOGIC CONDITIONS.

IN RESPONSE, THE FOREST SERVICE EXPLAINS THAT: (A) UNDER HUFFMAN'S PROPOSED APPROACH, THERE IS NO NEED FOR THE TWO PEOPLE TO WORK TOGETHER FOR THE SAME NUMBER OF SCHEDULED HOURS; THE FOREST SERVICE FINDS THE SCHEDULE TO BE SATISFACTORY; (B) THE FOREST SERVICE FINDS THAT HUFFMAN'S TECHNICAL PROPOSAL ADEQUATELY ADDRESSES THE MAJOR DIFFICULTIES AND PROBLEM AREAS AND POTENTIAL OR RECOMMENDED SOLUTIONS; (C) HUFFMAN PROVIDED THE INFORMATION ON GENERAL QUALIFICATIONS AND RECENT SIMILAR EXPERIENCE, AS REQUIRED BY THE RFP - SPECIFIC NAMES AND ADDRESSES OF REFERENCES WERE NOT REQUIRED; AND (D) CONTRARY TO O'ROURKE'S SUGGESTION, THERE WAS NO SPECIFIC REQUIREMENT FOR THE PROPOSED LITERATURE SEARCH TO ADDRESS GEOLOGIC CONDITIONS.

O'ROURKE'S CONTENTION OF UNFAIR TREATMENT OR SPECIAL CONSIDERATION FOR HUFFMAN IN THESE FOUR AREAS ALSO CONCERNS THE SUBJECTIVE EVALUATION OF PROPOSALS, WHICH, AS NOTED ABOVE, WE WILL NOT DISTURB UNLESS SHOWN TO BE UNREASONABLE, ARBITRARY, OR VIOLATIVE OF LAW. IN OUR VIEW, O'ROURKE HAS NOT SHOWN THAT ANY OF THE FOUR AREAS DEMONSTRATE AN IMPROPER EVALUATION OF HUFFMAN'S PROPOSAL. THE DIFFERENCE IN SCHEDULED HOURS DOES NOT PROHIBIT THE TWO PEOPLE FROM WORKING TOGETHER ACCORDING TO HUFFMAN'S PROPOSED APPROACH. MAJOR DIFFICULTIES AND PROBLEM AREAS, AND POTENTIAL OR RECOMMENDED SOLUTIONS ARE ADEQUATELY ADDRESSED OVERALL IN HUFFMAN'S PROPOSAL. HUFFMAN PROVIDED ADEQUATE INFORMATION ON ITS GENERAL QUALIFICATIONS AND RECENT SIMILAR EXPERIENCE. FINALLY, HUFFMAN'S PROPOSED LITERATURE SEARCH WAS NOT SHOWN TO BE UNSATISFACTORY. ACCORDINGLY, THIS ASPECT OF O'ROURKE'S PROPOSAL IS WITHOUT MERIT.

PROTEST DENIED.