B-241517.2, Apr 30, 1991, 91-1 CPD 423

B-241517.2: Apr 30, 1991

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PROCUREMENT - Competitive Negotiation - Offers - Competitive ranges - Exclusion - Administrative discretion DIGEST: Agency's determination that protester's proposal was unacceptable outside the competitive range was reasonable where the proposal contained significant informational deficiencies. ABA challenges the evaluation of its proposal and contends that the agency should have conducted discussions with it rather than exclude its proposal on the basis of informational deficiencies. Four proposals were received in response to the solicitation. Were included in the competitive range. Were eliminated from the competitive range as technically unacceptable. ABA's proposal was rejected based largely on DOS' determination that it was informationally deficient in several significant areas.

B-241517.2, Apr 30, 1991, 91-1 CPD 423

PROCUREMENT - Competitive Negotiation - Offers - Competitive ranges - Exclusion - Administrative discretion DIGEST: Agency's determination that protester's proposal was unacceptable outside the competitive range was reasonable where the proposal contained significant informational deficiencies, calling into question whether the firm understood what it would be required to do under the contract and precluding an adequate assessment of the relative strengths and weaknesses.

Attorneys

American Body Armor Equipment, Inc.:

American Body Armor Equipment, Inc. (ABA) protests the elimination of its proposal from the competitive range as technically unacceptable under request for proposals (RFP) No. 0000-030071, issued by the Department of State (DOS) for light armoring of vehicles. ABA challenges the evaluation of its proposal and contends that the agency should have conducted discussions with it rather than exclude its proposal on the basis of informational deficiencies.

We deny the protest in part and dismiss it in part.

The solicitation requested proposals for an indefinite quantity contract for the light armoring and equipping of government-furnished vehicles for foreign and domestic use and provided for the possibility of multiple awards. The solicitation provided for the evaluation of proposals based upon five technical evaluation factors: (1) understanding of the technical requirement and technical approach to performing the work (30 out of 100 possible points); (2) design, armoring and technical production facilities and capacity (20 points); (3) past corporate performance and experience in light armoring (20 points); (4) management plan (20 points); and (5) qualifications and experience of technical staff (10 points). addition, the solicitation provided for price to be given a weight equal to that of the technical factors.

Four proposals were received in response to the solicitation. The proposal of O'Gara-Hess and Eisenhardt Armoring Co. (OHEAC), which offered a price of $52,548,321 and received a technical score of 94, and that of Moloney Coachbuilders, Inc., which offered a price of $45,508,330 and received a technical score of 74, were included in the competitive range. The proposals submitted by ABA, which offered a price of $42,324,598 and received a technical score of 26, and by one other offeror, were eliminated from the competitive range as technically unacceptable. ABA's proposal was rejected based largely on DOS' determination that it was informationally deficient in several significant areas, and its conclusion that correcting the deficiencies would essentially require a rewriting of the proposal. Following cost and technical discussions, the submission of best and final offers (BAFO), and a finding that their offered prices were reasonable, DOS awarded contracts to OHEAC and Moloney, each contract including all items in the RFP. ABA thereupon filed this protest with our Office.

ABA takes issue with each deficiency identified by DOS, arguing that the evaluation was arbitrary and/or that the identified weaknesses were readily capable of being corrected through discussions.

An offeror must submit an initial proposal that is adequately written and that affirmatively states its merits, or run the risk of having its proposal rejected as technically unacceptable. Source AV, Inc., B-234521, June 20, 1989, 89-1 CPD Para. 578. Generally, offers that are technically unacceptable as submitted and would require major revisions to become acceptable are not required to be included in the competitive range for discussion purposes. W.N. Hunter Assocs.; Cajar Defense Support Co., B-237259; B-237259.2, Jan. 12, 1990, 90-1 CPD Para. 52. In reviewing whether a proposal was properly rejected as technically unacceptable for informational deficiencies, we examine the record to determine, among other things, whether the RFP called for detailed information and the nature of the informational deficiencies, for example, whether they tended to show that the offeror did not understand what it would be required to do under the contract. BioClean Medical Sys., Inc., B-239906, Aug. 17, 1990, 90-2 CPD Para. 142; DRT Assocs., Inc., B-237070, Jan. 11, 1990, 90-1 CPD Para. 47. We will not reevaluate a proposal but, rather, will consider only whether the agency's evaluation was reasonable and consistent with the evaluation scheme in the RFP. Communications Int'l, Inc., B-238810; B-238810.2, July 3, 1990, 90-2 CPD Para. 3.

Here, the RFP generally warned that the "proposals must include sufficiently detailed information to enable evaluation" based on the listed evaluation factors. In addition, the instructions for preparation of the technical proposal specifically indicated the subjects to be addressed and the level of detail required with respect to each evaluation criterion.

The record supports DOS' determination that ABA's proposal either failed to address, or lacked the requisite level of detail to demonstrate compliance with, the requirements under several of the evaluation criteria. For example, undertechnical approach, the single most important technical criterion, the solicitation required offerors to explain how the technical requirements would be implemented, and to describe the firm's quality control plan and the position of quality control in the overall company organization. Although ABA included in its proposal a step-by- step discussion of how it would armor a vehicle door, it provided only a very limited discussion-- significantly less detailed than was furnished by the ultimate awardees-- as to how it would perform the balance of the specification requirements. We think the agency reasonably concluded that this limited discussion did not demonstrate that ABA understood the technical requirements for completing the modification of the vehicles. Furthermore, other than generally stating that it would use an unnamed director of quality control, whose credentials therefore were not available for examination, and would perform daily inspections, ABA furnished no meaningful detail with respect to its approach to quality control. In contrast, both awardees described their quality control approaches in some detail.

DOS found similar deficiencies under the criterion for technical staff. The solicitation requested offerors to address the qualifications and experience of proposed technical staff members, including key engineering, quality control, and production staff. Resumes were required to identify the proposed individuals' length of service and experience with the offeror company, had to be signed and dated by the individuals, and, if not for a current employee, had to be accompanied by a binding agreement to accept employment in the event of award to the offeror. While one awardee submitted resumes for 16 individuals and the other awardee submitted 13 resumes, ABA furnished only 2 resumes. Both resumes indicated the individuals in question were currently employed by Moloney, and neither resume was signed or accompanied by a binding commitment to accept employment with ABA. Although ABA maintains that both individuals were in fact currently employed by ABA, and that at least one agency official knew that one of the individuals had been employed by ABA in 1988, nothing in ABA's proposal indicated that the individuals were currently employed by ABA, and there is no evidence that the evaluators were otherwise aware that this was the case. On the contrary, the resumes furnished with the proposal affirmatively stated that the individuals were employed by a competitor. In the absence of any evidence of a current commitment to ABA, the agency properly discounted the proposed individuals in its evaluation; certainly, the agency was not obligated to search out omitted information which ABA should have furnished with its proposal. American Technical Analytical Servs., Inc., B-240144, Oct. 26, 1990, 90-2 CPD Para. 337. In any case, we find reasonable the agency's downgrading of ABA's proposal based on its failure to furnish more than two resumes; ABA's failure precluded the agency from fully evaluating the qualifications of ABA's proposed staff.

DOS also questioned ABA's failure to fully comply with the solicitation requirements relating to corporate experience. The instructions for the preparation of proposals required offerors to submit information on all contracts for the prior 3 years involving similar or related supplies, including: name and address of the contracting organization; name of, and current telephone number for, the project officer; contract number; type of contract and dollar value; description of the supplies and services furnished under the contract and the period of performance; and a "statement of the offeror's success in meeting the delivery schedule with relation to the contract budget." ABA, which has had relatively little armoring experience, failed to specify a contract number for any of the 14 vehicles it listed, only named a project officer for 5 of the projects, failed to list a dollar value for any of the work, and failed to provide a specific statement as to whether it had met or was meeting the delivery schedule within the contract budget for any vehicle. As a result, the agency found that it was unable to fully evaluate ABA's prior corporate experience.

We conclude that ABA's failure to furnish the detailed information called for by the RFP, particularly the significant informational deficiencies discussed above, reasonably led the agency to question whether ABA understood what it would be required to do under the contract and effectively precluded an adequate assessment of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the firm's proposal. We therefore find that the agency reasonably determined ABA's proposal to be technically unacceptable and, due to the extensiveness of the deficiencies, not susceptible of being made acceptable without major revision. See generally Management Training Sys., B-238555.2, July 17, 1990, 90-2 CPD Para. 43. In these circumstances, DOS properly excluded ABA's proposal from the competitive range. See American Technical Analytical Servs., Inc., B-240144, supra.

ABA argues that DOS improperly accepted OHEAC's proposal even though it was received after the deadline set for receipt of proposals; ABA argues that OHEAC's proposal should be rejected and the second award made to ABA. While the record shows that OHEAC in fact did not submit its complete proposal until after the specified closing time (only section B, Schedule of Supplies and Services, and section K, Representations, were submitted on time), ABA is not entitled to raise this issue. Under the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984, 31 U.S.C. Secs. 3551(2) and 3552 (1988), and our Bid Protest Regulations, 4 C.F.R. Secs. 21.0(a) and 21.1(a) (1991), our Office may only consider protests filed by interested parties, defined as actual or prospective offerors whose direct economic interest would be affected by the award of or failure to award a contract. Where an offeror whose proposal properly has been rejected as technically unacceptable would not be in line for the award if its protest of award to a competitor were sustained, that offeror is not an interested party eligible to maintain a protest. See Bridge St. Acquisition Corp., B-239121.3, Nov. 13, 1990, 90-2 CPD Para. 388. Since we have found that the agency reasonably rejected ABA's proposal as technically unacceptable, and since the RFP did not mandate multiple awards such that the termination of OHEAC's contract would lead to a resolicitation in which ABA could complete, ABA obviously is not an interested party with respect to this issue.

The protest is denied in part and dismissed in part.