B-244930, Nov 29, 1991

B-244930: Nov 29, 1991

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DIGEST: Exclusion of a proposal from the competitive range was reasonable where the record shows that the agency properly found the protester's proposal unacceptable in 4 of the 5 technical evaluation areas and thus unacceptable overall. The successful contractor is required to furnish all labor. Teltara's proposal was considered technically unacceptable and eliminated from the competitive range. Therefore the agency's determination that its proposal was technically unacceptable and its consequent elimination from the competitive range were unreasonable. The evaluation of proposals and the resulting determination as to whether an offeror is in the competitive range are matters within the discretion of the contracting activity.

B-244930, Nov 29, 1991

DIGEST: Exclusion of a proposal from the competitive range was reasonable where the record shows that the agency properly found the protester's proposal unacceptable in 4 of the 5 technical evaluation areas and thus unacceptable overall.

Attorneys

Teltara, Inc.:

Teltara, Inc. protests the elimination of its proposal from the competitive range under request for proposals (RFP) No. DABT11-91-R 0009, issued by the Department of the Army for complete hospital housekeeping services at the Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center and Area Dental Laboratory, Fort Gordon, Georgia.

We deny the protest.

The RFP, issued on March 22, 1991, as a small business set-aside, contemplates the award of a firm, fixed-price price contract for a 1 year base period and four 1-year options. The work encompassed in the RFP includes virtually all tasks related to the maintenance of the medical center, dental laboratory, and other buildings located at the center. The successful contractor is required to furnish all labor, supervision, management support, transportation, equipment and materials necessary to provide the services as specified in the detailed statement of work contained in the solicitation.

The RFP stated that award would be made to the responsible offeror submitting the lowest-priced, technically acceptable proposal, and listed the following as the technical evaluation criteria:

(1) Contract Technical Aspects

(2) General Management Program

(3) Experience

(4) Pre-performance Plan

(5) Work Distribution and Staffing

The solicitation also informed offerors that in performing the evaluation the contract technical aspects criterion would be weighted slightly greater than the general management program, experience, and pre- performance plan criteria, which in turn would be weighted slightly greater than the work distribution and staffing criterion.

The source selection evaluation board found Teltara's proposal to be unacceptable in the areas of contract technical aspects, experience, pre- performance plan, and work distribution and staffing, and marginally acceptable in the area of general management. Thus, Teltara's proposal was considered technically unacceptable and eliminated from the competitive range.

Teltara protests that its proposal exceeds the minimum requirements of the solicitation, and therefore the agency's determination that its proposal was technically unacceptable and its consequent elimination from the competitive range were unreasonable.

The evaluation of proposals and the resulting determination as to whether an offeror is in the competitive range are matters within the discretion of the contracting activity, since it is responsible for defining its needs and for deciding on the best methods of accommodating them. Rainbow Tech., Inc., B-232589, Jan. 24, 1989, 89-1 CPD Para. 66. In reviewing an agency's evaluation, we will not reevaluate the proposals, but instead will examine the agency's evaluation to ensure that it was reasonable and in accordance with the RFP evaluation criteria. Id.

The technical evaluators here found that Teltara's proposal was unacceptable in the area of experience because it did not indicate that the offeror had experience in "service type contracts of similar size and scope" as required by the solicitation. The agency noted in evaluating Teltara's proposal that while the proposal evidenced experience in the performance of general custodial contracts, and the provision of housekeeping services at two medical clinics and one relatively small hospital (71 bed) at Fort Rucker, Teltara's proposal did not indicate any experience in the provision of hospital housekeeping services at a medical facility similar in size to the Eisenhower medical center, area dental clinic, and other buildings covered by the RFP, which total 773,892 square feet of serviceable space and bed space ranging from 420 to 487. Further, in checking the performance of Teltara at the Fort Rucker hospital, the evaluators were provided with a memorandum dated December 19, 1989, prepared by the Army Health Services Command at the request of Fort Rucker, which detailed numerous deficiencies in the protester's performance of its hospital housekeeping services at that facility.

In challenging the agency's conclusion that the level of its experience was unacceptable, the protester references various documents and provides a narrative of the experience of one of its division presidents. These documents are apparently intended to demonstrate that Teltara possesses experience which the agency failed to consider during its evaluation.

However, these documents or explanations were not included in Teltara's proposal. A technical evaluation must be based on information submitted with the proposal. Health Mgmt. Assocs. of Am., Inc., B-220295, Jan. 10, 1986, 86-1 CPD Para. 26. Consequently, these documents and explanations do not provide a basis on which to find this aspect of the agency's evaluation unreasonable. In any event, Teltara does not explain how these documents relate to the experience sought by the RFP. For example, while Teltara describes the experience of one of its division presidents, we note that the agency found Teltara technically unacceptable in this area because it lacked experience as a firm in providing the requested services, not because it failed to meet any individual personnel experience requirements. See Wildcard Assocs., 68 Comp.Gen. 563 (1989), 89-2 CPD Para. 74.

The protester also argues that the agency's conclusions concerning its poor performance at the Fort Rucker hospital are unfounded as they are based on erroneous information. The protester explains here that the Army Health Services Command memorandum resulted in Teltara's receiving a letter from the Fort Rucker contracting officer detailing the deficiencies in Teltara's performance. The protester has provided a copy of its response to the contracting officer's letter, which the protester claims indicates that the Health Services Command's finding were not valid. From our review, the response primarily indicates that the protester had taken corrective action regarding the noted deficiencies. /1/ To the extent the protester is contending that the agency acted improperly in considering the information received from Fort Rucker without providing Teltara with an opportunity to rebut it, we note that an agency need not permit an offeror the opportunity to rebut the information received from references, nor must it conduct further investigation into the accuracy of information received from references, where, as here, the solicitation requires that offerors furnish references on prior experience and offerors are aware that these references may be contacted. Employment Perspectives, B-218338, June 24, 1985, 85-1 CPD Para. 715.

The evaluators also found that Teltara's proposal was unacceptable with regard to pre-performance plan, staffing, and technical aspects because of numerous deficiencies in these areas. For example, with regard to the protester's pre-performance plan, the evaluators found it unacceptable based on their determination that Teltara would have a problem in having sufficient personnel with all the skills necessary to perform the contract in place prior to contract performance. The evaluators found, and our review confirms, that the plan provided for the initial interviews of new employees within 2 weeks of the contract start date, and for the actual hiring and training of these employees within 1 week of the start date. We have reviewed Teltara's pre performance plan and believe that the agency's concerns here were reasonable. While Teltara contends that its pre-performance plan is sufficient for hiring and training to commence contract performance as required, it has not presented any probative evidence, other than its disagreement, that would show that the agency acted unreasonably in downgrading its proposal. See Pemco Aeroplex, Inc., B-239672.5, Apr. 12, 1991, 91-1 CPD Para. 367.

The evaluators found with regard to the technical aspects of Teltara's proposal that the proposal was deficient because it did not address numerous tasks specified in the solicitation's statement of work. For example, the agency found that the proposal failed to address tasks such as the weekly cleaning of surgical areas and elevators, and the weekly or monthly cleaning of the kitchen areas. The agency also found that the proposal failed to comply with the solicitation requirements regarding mopping and corridor cleaning procedures. Additionally, the agency was concerned with the supply levels of various items proposed by Teltara, such as mopheads. /2/

Teltara claims here that its proposal addresses the cleaning of surgical areas and elevators in accordance with the solicitation's statement of work. With regard to the weekly cleaning of the surgical areas and elevators, and the weekly and monthly cleaning of the kitchen areas, we have reviewed the proposal and, like the agency, find no reference to the performance of these tasks. Teltara, however, has not responded to the other matters raised by the agency here, such as the cleaning of the kitchen areas, corridor cleaning procedures, and supply levels. In light of the specific requirements in the RFP relating to these matters, the agency acted reasonably in downgrading Teltara's proposal for failing to adequately address them. Wordpro, Inc., B-242100.2, Apr. 24, 1991, 91-1 CPD Para. 404.

The evaluators also found the protester's staffing plan unacceptable for a variety of reasons. For example, it failed to provide coverage for seven vital areas on weekends, including the Pediatrics Ward. Teltara has not responded to the agency's concerns here, and we thus have no basis on which to conclude that the agency acted unreasonably in downgrading this aspect of Teltara's proposal.

In sum, based on our review of the solicitation, Teltara's proposal, the technical evaluation, and the responses to the protest, we find that the agency acted reasonably in concluding that Teltara's proposal was technically unacceptable and eliminating it from the competitive range. /3/

The protest is denied.

/1/ The contracting officer's letter listed a number of deficiencies in Teltara's performance and requested a response detailing the corrective action taken. For example, the agency stated that "dusting and wet mopping was not being accomplished as required by the contract," and Teltara's response, dated two weeks later, stated that "dusting and wet mopping procedures are currently performed satisfactorily."

/2/ With regard to the proposed supply of mopheads, the agency concluded that Teltara would have only a 1-day supply on hand when it commenced performance of the contract.

/3/ Teltara has protested various other aspects of the agency's evaluation of its proposal. While we have not set forth in detail our views concerning all of the protester's objections, we have reviewed the entire evaluation record in the context of Teltara's arguments and conclude that Teltara's proposal was reasonably found unacceptable.

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