The Arcanum Group, Inc.

B-413682.4,B-413682.5: Aug 14, 2017

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The Arcanum Group, Inc. (TAG), of Denver, Colorado protests the General Services Administration, Public Buildings Service's (GSA) award of a contract to MIRACORP, Inc., of Mesa, Arizona, under request for proposals (RFP) No. GS-08-P-16-JE-D-7000, for administrative and technical support services for the GSA, Rocky Mountain Region 8. TAG primarily challenges the agency's evaluation of proposals and source selection decision.

We deny the protest.

DOCUMENT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE
The decision issued on the date below was subject to a GAO Protective Order. This redacted version has been approved for public release.

Decision

Matter of:  The Arcanum Group, Inc.

File:  B-413682.4; B-413682.5

Date:  August 14, 2017

Pamela J. Mazza, Esq., Meghan F. Leemon, Esq., Julia Di Vito, Esq., and Patrick T. Rothwell, Esq., Piliero Mazza PLLC, for the protester.
Thomas K. David, Esq., Kenneth D. Brody, Esq., and Katherine A. David, Esq., David, Brody & Dondershine, LLP, for MIRACORP, Inc, an intervenor.
Leigh Ann Bunetta, Esq., General Services Administration, for the agency.
Peter D. Verchinski, Esq., and Amy B. Pereira, Esq., Office of the General Counsel, GAO, participated in the preparation of the decision.

DIGEST

1.  Protest challenging agency's evaluation of proposals and source selection decision is denied where the record shows that the evaluation and selection decision were reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation.

2.  Protest challenging the agency's evaluation of the protester's past performance is denied where, even if the agency had engaged in a disparate evaluation, the protester was not prejudiced by any errors.

DECISION

The Arcanum Group, Inc. (TAG), of Denver, Colorado protests the General Services Administration, Public Buildings Service's (GSA) award of a contract to MIRACORP, Inc., of Mesa, Arizona, under request for proposals (RFP) No. GS-08-P-16-JE-D-7000, for administrative and technical support services for the GSA, Rocky Mountain Region 8.  TAG primarily challenges the agency's evaluation of proposals and source selection decision.

We deny the protest.

BACKGROUND

The RFP, issued on November 18, 2015, provided for the award of a fixed-price contract for on-site administrative and technical support services at various locations in the Rocky Mountain Region for a base year and four 1-year options.  The acquisition, conducted under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 12, Acquisition of Commercial Items, was set aside for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB).  Award was to be made on a best-value basis, considering price and the following three technical evaluation factors:  management plan, experience of key personnel, and past performance.  RFP at 68.  The RFP provided that the technical evaluation factors were significantly more important than price.  Id.

With regard to experience of key personnel, offerors were to submit resumes for the proposed key personnel, which consisted of a program manager, contract administrator, human resources manager, and budget analyst.  RFP at 69.  Each resume was to demonstrate that the individual had "at least five (5) years of past experience" performing that job function on a "[s]imilar [p]roject."  RFP at 69. The RFP (as amended) defined "similar project" as "a contract with a Government Agency (federal, state, local) with staffing requirement for technical and administrative support services personnel, with a staff of at least thirty (30) employees."  RFP, amend. 6, at 3.

With regard to past performance, the RFP stated that an "[o]fferor shall submit only three (3) references for contracts" that meet the criteria for "similar projects." RFP at 69.  Each firm was to submit a questionnaire (found in the solicitation) to their references, which was "to be completed in a timely manner to allow a completed questionnaire sent by each reference to reach this office by the time and date specified for receipt of information identified in the solicitation."  Id.  The past performance questionnaire (PPQ) included four areas to be evaluated with an adjectival rating (outstanding, good, satisfactory, marginal, or unsatisfactory), and provided a space in each area for the reference to provide comments.  RFP, attach. E.  Furthermore, the RFP provided that if an offeror did not have any established past performance, then "the offeror will be given a neutral rating and will not be evaluated favorably or unfavorably for this criterion."  RFP at 69.  Finally, the agency explained that the number of similar projects submitted could affect the agency's evaluation, explaining that a firm with two similar projects rated as outstanding would be evaluated more favorably than a vender with only one outstanding similar project.  RFP, amend. 3, Dec. 3, 2015, Question 3.

The agency received 17 proposals, including TAG's (the incumbent) and MIRACORP's, by the solicitation's January 25, 2016 closing date.  Memorandum of Law (MOL) at 2.  A source selection evaluation board (SSEB) evaluated the proposals under each evaluation factor by providing narrative strengths, significant weaknesses, and deficiencies.[1]  AR, exh. 10, SSEB Report, at 1-26.  The SSEB also assigned a point value (using a 10 point scale) to each factor.[2]  With respect to TAG's proposal, the agency identified various strengths, no significant weaknesses, and no deficiencies under each evaluation factor.  For past performance, the SSEB found that TAG had submitted past performance questionnaires for 3 similar projects--two projects which had outstanding ratings and one project which had good ratings.  AR, exh. 10, SSEB Report, at 6.  The SSEB determined that TAG had exceeded the standard for past performance (thus, was entitled to a "good" rating), and assigned a consensus score of 8 for this factor.[3]  The SSEB also assigned scores of 8 under the other two evaluation factors, and the firm received a total weighted consensus score of 8.[4]  AR, exh. 10, SSEB Report, at 4-6.

With respect to MIRACORP's proposal, under the management plan evaluation factor, the SSEB identified some strengths, some significant weaknesses, and no deficiencies.  The SSEB assigned a point score of 6.  Id. at 4, 7.  Under the experience of key personnel evaluation factor, the SSEB identified some strengths, one significant weaknesses, and no deficiencies.  Id. at 7-8.  The SSEB assigned a point score of 8.  Id. at 4.  Under the past performance evaluation factor, the SSEB assigned a strength for providing three past performance questionnaires, no deficiencies, and a significant weaknesses.  Id. at 8.  The SSEB assigned a point score of 5.  The firm received a total, weighted score of 6.35.  Id. at 4.

The SSEB concluded that TAG's higher technical rating outweighed its higher price, and recommended award to TAG.[5]  Id. at 26.  After reviewing the SSEB's evaluation, the contracting officer, who was the source selection authority (SSA), disagreed with the SSEB's recommendation.  AR, exh. 11, SSDD, Aug. 3, 2016, at 1-6.  Specifically, the SSA found that TAG's higher rating was not worth the additional cost.  Id. at 6.  The SSA concluded that MIRACORP represented the best value to the agency, and selected the firm for award.  Id.

On September 6, 2016, TAG timely protested the agency's selection decision to our Office, arguing that the agency failed to conduct a price realism analysis.  In response to the protest, the agency indicated that it would take corrective action by conducting a new evaluation of the offerors' prices, including a price realism analysis.  Our Office dismissed TAG's protest as academic on October 7.

The SSEB conducted a price realism analysis, and subsequently reaffirmed its recommendation that the contract be awarded to TAG.  AR, exh. 13, SSEB Price Realism Discussion, at 1-5.  The SSA reviewed the SSEB's price evaluation and conducted her own price realism analysis, concluding that MIRACORP's prices were realistic.  AR, exh. 14, SSA Addendum Report:  Price Realism Evaluation, at 1-9.  In summarizing her findings in her price realism analysis, the SSA acknowledged that TAG received a higher technical score, but that the score was "outweighed by the significant price difference over the 5-year contract term."  Id. at 5.  The SSA ultimately found that TAG offered no significant benefits that justified its higher price.  Id. at 6.  The SSA concluded that, "[d]espite the SSEB's conclusion and recommendation, the SSA determines that MIRACORP, not TAG, provides the best value to the government."  Id. at 5. 

The agency again made award to MIRACORP, and TAG again filed a protest with our Office.  TAG primarily challenged the agency's determination that MIRACORP submitted realistic prices, as well as the agency's best-value decision. 

On March 29, 2017, our Office denied TAG's challenge to the agency's evaluation of MIRACORP's pricing.  However, we found that the record did not demonstrate that the agency's best-value decision was reasonable, and we sustained MIRACORP's protest on this basis.  Specifically, our Office found that the SSA concluded that MIRACORP had identified similar projects for the past performance evaluation, even though the SSEB reached a different conclusion on this issue--but the record did not contain adequate documentation explaining how the SSA reached this conclusion.  Our Office recommended that the SSA reevaluate MIRACORP's proposal under the past performance evaluation factor and document the rationale for her conclusions.[6]  We also recommended that the agency prepare a new source selection decision. 

In accordance with our recommendation, the SSA conducted a new past performance evaluation of MIRACORP's proposal.  The SSA examined each of MIRACORP's three past performance references, including the adjectival ratings given by the references in the PPQs and MIRACORP's contractor performance assessment reports (CPAR) ratings, and found that all three projects were similar.[7]  AR, exh. 22, SSDD, Apr. 28, 2017, at 6-10.  The SSA concluded that

The variety of the past performance evaluations and the high ratings demonstrate that MIRACORP deserved a higher rating than that given by  the SSEB.  The rating of Satisfactory (5, with a weighted score of 1.25) is not supported when considering the totality of the questionnaires and CPARs ratings.  The SSA determined that the rating was 7 or Good, with a weighted rating of 1.75.

Id. at 10. 

The SSA also conducted a review of TAG's past performance evaluation.  The SSA found that, of the three past performance references TAG had submitted, only two were for similar projects.  Id. at 11. The SSA noted that TAG had originally received a 2.0 weighted score (a score of 8, unweighted), based on three projects, two of which were rated outstanding and one was rated good.  The SSA determined that one of the outstanding projects was not similar, since the proposal did not indicate that this project involved 30 or more employees, and the SSA determined that this project should have received a neutral rating.  Id. at 11.  The SSDD stated "TAG initially received an overall 8 rating.  The rating of Neutral for the VA task order receives a score of 5, meaning an 8+8+5 for a total of 21, which then equates to a 7 rating and weighted rating of 1.75."  Id. at 11-12. 

The SSA also conducted a reevaluation of MIRACORP's key personnel and TAG's key personnel.  Id. at 2-5.  With regard to MIRACORP, the SSA found that MIRACORP's proposed human resources manager did not satisfy the five year experience for work on a project meeting the RFP's definition for similar, and found this to be a significant weakness.  Id. at 3.  The SSA found that MIRACORP's three other key personnel positions met the requirements.  Id. at 4. The SSA concluded that a rating of satisfactory (a score of 6.5) was warranted for this evaluation factor.  With regard to TAG, the SSA found that 3 of the 4 proposed key personnel did not satisfy the five year experience requirement on similar contracts.  Id. at 4-5.  The SSA found each of these individual's failure to meet the requirement was a significant weakness.  Id. at 5. The SSA concluded that TAG's score under this factor should drop from an 8 to a 4.5. Id.

In conducting her new trade-off analysis, the SSA examined MIRACORP's and TAG's evaluation under the key personnel and past performance evaluation factors.  Id. at 10-12.  In considering past performance, the SSA found that the past performance ratings of both MIRACORP and TAG were equal, and both fell into the "good" category.  Id.  at 12.  In considering the key personnel, the SSA determined that MIRACORP's proposal was stronger than TAG's, as only one of MIRACORP's personnel failed to meet the experience requirement, while three of TAG's personnel failed to meet the requirement.  With regard to the overall ratings, the SSA concluded that the new evaluation had "narrow[ed] the gap in the technical ratings of TAG and MIRACORP."  Id. at 12.  TAG's new weighted score was 6.7, while MIRACORP's new weighted score was 6.4.  Id.

The SSA also considered the benefits of TAG's higher technical rating, and incorporated the analysis from the two prior source selection decision documents.  Id. at 10.  Specifically, the SSA considered TAG's strengths such as its onsite program manager, retention of current employees, and a clear understanding of GSA's culture.  Id. at 12.  Despite these strengths, the SSA did not find that they warranted the price difference between the two proposals, and the SSA again affirmed MIRACORP as the awardee. 

This protest followed. 

DISCUSSION

TAG raises several challenges to the agency's evaluation of proposals.  TAG primarily challenges the agency's new evaluation of the proposals under the past performance evaluation factor, and also challenges the agency's evaluation of TAG's proposal under the key personnel evaluation factor.  While we do not specifically discuss each of the protester's arguments, and variations thereof, we have considered all of them and find that none provides a basis to sustain the protest.[8]

Past Performance

TAG challenges numerous aspects of the agency's past performance evaluation.  TAG asserts that the agency improperly accepted MIRACORP's PPQs and CPAR ratings even though they were received late, improperly relied on MIRACORP's CPAR ratings in its evaluation of MIRACORP's past performance, improperly rated one of TAG's past performance projects, and conducted a disparate evaluation of MIRACORP's and TAG's past performance.  For the reasons explained below, we find the record establishes that the agency either evaluated past performance reasonably and in accordance with the RFP's announced methodology for evaluating proposals, or that any evaluation errors did not prejudice the protester.

The evaluation of an offeror's past performance is a matter of agency discretion, which we will not find improper unless unreasonable or inconsistent with the solicitation's evaluation criteria, Erickson Helicopters, Inc., B-409903, B-409903.2, Sept. 5, 2014, 2014 CPD ¶ 288 at 6; Command Enters., Inc., B-293754, June 7, 2004, 2004 CPD ¶ 166 at 4, nor will we substitute our judgment for reasonably based evaluation ratings.  MFM Lamey Group, LLC, B-402377, Mar. 25, 2010, 2010 CPD ¶ 81 at 10.  An offeror's disagreement with the agency's judgments, without more, does not demonstrate that those judgments are unreasonable.  FN Mfg., LLC, B-402059.4, B-402059.5, Mar. 22, 2010, 2010 CPD ¶ 104 at 7.

First, TAG asserts that MIRACORP's PPQs were received late, and thus the agency improperly considered them in its evaluation.  Specifically, TAG asserts that the RFP required offerors to submit the PPQs by the due date for proposals, and the record shows that one of MIRACORP's references submitted its PPQ one day after proposals were due, and another reference submitted its PPQ four days later.  Protester's Supp. Comments, July 6, 2017, at 5.  TAG argues that, given that these PPQs were submitted late, the agency is precluded from considering them, and the agency should have assigned each of MIRACORP's late past performance references a score of 5, as the agency assigned a score of 5 to its reference that was found not to be similar.  We disagree.

As an initial matter, we note that this is not an instance where an offeror has submitted its proposal (or some part thereof) after the closing time for receipt of proposals.  In such circumstances, our Office has found that the agency's consideration of late material is improper.  See, e.g., Radiation Oncology Group of WNY, PC, B-310354.2, B-310354.3, Sept. 18, 2008, 2009 CPD ¶ 136 (finding that agency's consideration of an email containing additional supporting material regarding an offeror's technical proposal received after closing time constituted improper discussions with only one offeror).  Our Office has also denied protests where an agency has reasonably rejected a protester's quotation because the protester submitted its past performance information after closing time.  Zebra Tech. Int'l, LLC, B-296158, June 24, 2005, 2005 CPD ¶ 122.  Here, the agency received the PPQs, not from MIRACORP, but from the references that were included in MIRACORP's proposal, and the PPQs were received prior to the start of proposal evaluation.  AR, exh. 11, SSDD, Aug. 3, 2016, at 3.  Moreover, the RFP did not specifically state that the agency would not consider PPQs received after the closing time.  Rather, the RFP stated that it was the offeror's responsibility to see that the PPQs were submitted by the closing time, and that the PPQs were "due" by the closing time.  RFP at 69; RFP, amend. 7, Question 11.  The RFP was silent as to what the agency would do with PPQs that were received late.  Finally, the RFP specifically stated that the "government reserves the right to contact reference[s] . . .  to obtain information related to past and present performance."  RFP at 69.  Given that the agency could have sought out this information, we find the agency's decision to consider this information was within its discretion, and we find nothing improper with the agency's evaluation.

Next, TAG argues that it was improper for the agency to consider MIRACORP's CPAR ratings in its evaluation of MIRACORP's past performance because the CPAR ratings were provided by MIRACORP.  As stated above, the RFP provided a past performance questionnaire (PPQ) that was to be filled out by the reference and sent to the agency, and the PPQ included four areas to be evaluated with an adjectival rating and comments.  When the agency received the PPQ forms from MIRACORP's references, the references also sent, under MIRACORP's letterhead, information about the contract including the CPAR adjectival ratings.  The protester argues that the SSA improperly relied upon these adjectival ratings in her evaluation, as the SSA did not independently verify the CPAR ratings nor did the agency evaluate TAG's CPAR ratings.

We find nothing improper with the agency's determination to take these CPAR adjectival ratings into account when evaluating MIRACORP's past performance.  In this regard, the RFP informed offerors that the agency would consider the information provided by the reference "as well as other relevant information from other sources when evaluating the Offeror's past performance."  RFP at 69.  Here, the agency received the CPAR ratings from the references on the back of the PPQs, which were sent in by the references, in accordance with the RFP.  The protester does not allege that the CPAR ratings are inaccurate, or otherwise improper.  While the protester argues that these CPAR ratings should not be accepted because the RFP informed offerors that completed PPQs sent directly from the offeror would not be accepted, these CPAR ratings were not sent directly from the offeror, but were sent by the references.  Thus, it was reasonable for the agency to conclude that the CPAR adjectival ratings reflected MIRACORP's references' views on the quality of MIRACORP's past performance.  Finally, while the protester asserts that, because the agency was in receipt of CPAR ratings from MIRACORP, it was then obligated to retrieve the CPAR ratings for TAG, we find the agency was not required to do so. Here, the agency did not search out additional past performance information for only the awardee, but instead chose to evaluate the information that was provided to it by the references with the PPQs.  In sum, we find nothing improper with the agency's use of this information in its evaluation. 

Next, the protester argues that it was improper for the SSA to assign a rating of "5" to its past performance project that the SSA found did not meet the definition of a similar project.  TAG maintains that a rating of "5" here amounts to an unfavorable rating, which improperly downgraded TAG's overall past performance, and the SSA should have based her past performance rating on only 2 projects--the two that were found to be similar. 

We find no merit to the protester's allegation that the agency's use of a point score of 5 to rate the project that was not similar was improper.  The RFP stated that "the Offeror shall submit only three (3) references for contracts meeting the '[s]imilar [p]roject' criteria."  While the protester reads this language as stating "up to 3 references" may be submitted, and thus there was nothing improper with submitting only two similar projects, the RFP, in fact, states on its face that "only 3" projects are to be provided. Furthermore, the RFP informed offerors, during questions and answers, that "the number of similar projects may affect evaluation ratings."  RFP, amend. 3, Dec. 3, 2015, Question 3.  Given this, it was consistent with the solicitation for the agency's evaluation to take into account the protester's failure to submit three references for similar projects.  Furthermore, we find nothing improper with the assignment of a 5 rating, which was the middle of the range of point scores possible for this project.  The agency's assignment of a 5 rating for this project amounted to a neutral (i.e. neither favorable nor unfavorable) evaluation of the firm's past performance for this project.  There was nothing unreasonable in the agency's determination that the failure to provide three similar projects (as required by the solicitation) should be taken into account in the agency's scoring, and yet finding that the adjectival ratings for this third project should neither be beneficial (outstanding or good), nor detrimental (marginal or unacceptable).  See generally Joint Mgmt. & Tech. Servs., B-294229, B-294229.2, Sept. 22, 2004, 2004 CPD ¶ 208 (assigning a rating of 5--the midpoint on the evaluation scoring scale--was reasonable when the offeror had no meaningful past performance).  In sum, we find nothing unreasonable about the agency's evaluation.

TAG also argues that the agency's evaluation of its past performance and MIRACORP's past performance were unequal.  TAG points out that the SSA assigned MIRACORP's past performance references point scores of 8.5 (project 1), 7.5 (project 2), and 5 (project 3), and asserts that the record shows that TAG received point scores of 8, 8, and 5 for its 3 references.[9]  TAG argues that the underlying adjectival ratings, on which these point scores were based, demonstrate disparate treatment in the scoring, as TAG had higher adjectival ratings on its PPQs while receiving lower point scores.  We agree with the protester that the record indicates that, for at least one of TAG's past performance projects, the agency evaluated TAG's and MIRACORP's past performance ratings unequally. 

Here, as stated above, the record shows that the SSA engaged in a detailed examination of each of MIRACORP's three similar projects, and assigned point scores based on the underlying adjectival ratings found on the PPQs, the comments found on the PPQs, and the CPAR adjectival ratings.  AR, exh. 22, SSDD, Apr. 28, 2017, at 6-10.  For MIRACORP's highest-rated project (project 1), the firm received all "goods" in the four areas on the PPQ, no comments on the PPQ, and CPAR ratings of very good to exceptional.  AR, exh. 20, MIRACORP Past Performance Ratings, at 3-4.  The SSA assigned MIRACORP a rating of 8.5.  In contrast, for TAG's highest-rated project, the firm received all "outstandings" in the four areas on its PPQ, and received only positive comments.  Given this, TAG was entitled to a score of 9 or 10 under the agency's scoring system, equating to "outstanding," rather than the score of 8 that the record indicates the firm received. 

For MIRACORP's second highest-rated project (project 2), the firm received two satisfactory and two good ratings in the four areas on the PPQ, only positive comments on the PPQ, and ratings from satisfactory to exceptional on its CPAR ratings.  The SSA assigned MIRACORP a rating of 7.5 for this project.  In contrast, for TAG's second highest-rated project, the firm received ratings of "good" in all four areas on its PPQ, without any comments.  Consequently, TAG was entitled to a score of 7 or 8 under the agency's scoring system.[10]  Finally, for MIRACORP's third highest-rated project

(project 3), the firm received all satisfactory ratings on its PPQ, and all satisfactory ratings on its CPARs, without any comments.  The SSA assigned MIRACORP a rating of 5 for this project.  TAG also received a score of 5 for this project because the agency had found the project not to be similar. 

Notwithstanding the agency's lack of explanation for the scores for TAG's two similar projects, we cannot find that any possible error here prejudiced the protester.  If TAG's two similar projects had received the highest point scores possible under the agency's scoring system for their respective adjectival ratings, then TAG's highest-rated project would have increased to a score of 10 (for "outstanding"), and TAG's second highest-rated project would have received a score of 8 (for "good").  This would have increased TAG's past performance point score two points, from 8+8+5 to 10+8+5.  Thus, TAG's total past performance point score would be 23, which would result in an unweighted score of 7.66, and a weighted score of 1.91.[11]  Here, a score of 7.66 is still within the agency's "good" range (of 7-8) for past performance.  Since the agency evaluated TAG's past performance as good, we find no evidence that a slightly higher rating under past performance would have changed the agency's evaluation. 

Furthermore, the new weighted score for TAG would raise TAG's total evaluated score from 6.7 to 6.86, while MIRACORP's score would remain 6.4.  However, the SSA's first source selection decision found that MIRACORP's proposal represented the best value to the agency when TAG had received a total weighted score of 8, and MIRACORP received a total weighted score of 6.35, which evidenced a greater technical disparity.  AR, exh. 11, SSDD, Aug. 3, 2016, at 3, 6.  Given that the SSA has already found that MIRACORP's lower-priced proposal represented a better value to the agency when there was a larger technical disparity, we do not think that the agency's failure to provide an additional 0.16 points to TAG's score prejudiced the protester.  See AdvanceMed Corp.; TrustSolutions, LLC, B-404910.4 et al., Jan 17, 2012, 2012 CPD ¶ 25 at 24 (finding that a small increase in the protester's technical score, and the source selection decision's reliance on the difference in costs, rendered any potential prejudice from possible errors in the protester's evaluation too speculative and remote to sustain the protest).

Key Personnel

TAG also challenges the agency's evaluation of three of its four key personnel.  TAG argues that the agency improperly found that its human resources manager, budget analyst, and program manager did not satisfy the requirement that the key personnel have five years of experience on a similar project.  TAG asserts that, if the agency had read the key personnel's resumes as a whole, the agency would have found that these individuals satisfy the 5-year requirement.  We disagree.

An agency's method for evaluating the relative merits of competing proposals is a matter within the agency's discretion, since the agency is responsible for defining its needs and the best method for accommodating them.  The COGAR Group, Ltd., B-413004 et al., July 22, 2016, 2016 CPD ¶ 189 at 4.  Where an evaluation is challenged, our Office will not reevaluate proposals but instead will examine the record to determine whether the agency's judgment was reasonable and consistent with the stated evaluation criteria and applicable statutes and regulations.  Lear Siegler Servs., Inc., B-280834, B-280834.2, Nov. 25, 1998, 98-2 CPD ¶ 136 at 7.  Furthermore, offerors are responsible for submitting a well-written proposal with adequately-detailed information that allows for a meaningful review by the procuring agency.  iGov et al., B-408128.24 et al., Oct. 31, 2014, 2014 CPD ¶ 329 at 31; Henry Schein, Inc., B-405319, Oct. 18, 2011, 2011 CPD ¶ 264 at 7.  An offeror risks having its proposal evaluated unfavorably where it fails to submit an adequately written proposal.  STG, Inc., B-411415, B-411415.2, July 22, 2015, 2015 CPD ¶ 240 at 5-6.

Here, the agency's evaluation of TAG's key personnel was reasonable and consistent with the RFP.  With regard to TAG's human resources manager, the agency found, and we agree, that this person's resume demonstrates only 3 years and 8 months experience on similar projects.  AR, exh. 22, SSDD, Apr. 28, 2017, at 4.  While TAG asserts that the agency should have taken into consideration additional experience worked [DELETED], the resume provided no indication that this was a government contract, how long this project lasted, whether she was working in the capacity as a human resources manager for this specific project, or that it otherwise satisfied the RFP's definition of a similar project.  AR, exh. 19, TAG Technical Proposal, at 20.

With regard to TAG's budget analyst, the agency found, and we agree, that this person's resume demonstrates only 4 years and 3 months of experience on a similar project.  AR, exh. 22, SSDD, Apr. 28, 2017, at 5.  TAG again points to experience on this individual's resume, stating that he has provided "budget analysis support to twelve other Federal Contracts over the past 8 years."  AR, exh. 19, TAG Technical Proposal, at 22.  However, the resume provides no explanation as to how long the contracts lasted, the scope of the work for those contracts, or that they otherwise satisfied the RFP's definition of similar project.  Furthermore, the only explanation in the resume for what work was performed under "budget analysis support" was that the individual provided "as needed CFO and financial consulting services."  AR, exh. 19, TAG Technical Proposal, at 21-22. The agency reasonably concluded that this was insufficient to establish that the individual had 5 years of experience on a similar project. 

Finally, with regard to the program manager, the agency found, and we agree, that this person's resume only demonstrates 4 years and 2 months experience on similar projects.  While TAG points to this individual's work as an employee of the [DELETED] to establish additional experience as a program manager, the agency found that this work does not meet the definition of a similar project, as the work was not performed as a government contractor with a staff of 30.  Given this, we find nothing improper about the agency's evaluation of the protester's key personnel.

The protest is denied.

Susan A. Poling
General Counsel



[1] Three proposals were eliminated from the competition for failing to meet the solicitation's "go/no-go" criteria relating to SDVOSB certification.  Agency Report (AR), exh. 10, SSEB Report, at 2. 

[2] An "outstanding" rating indicated a proposal that significantly exceeds the applicable standard, and received 9-10 points.  A "good" rating indicated a proposal that exceeds the applicable "standard to some extent," and received 7-8 points.  A "satisfactory" rating indicated a proposal that meets the applicable standard, and received 4-6 points; a "marginal" rating did not exceed the applicable standard, and received 2-3 points; an "unsatisfactory" rating did not exceed the applicable standard, and received 0-1 points.  AR, exh. 10, SSEB Report, at 2.

[3]  According to the SSEB report, the standard for the past performance factor is "met when no references are below Satisfactory (4-6 [points]) range on 'Similar Project' completed within the last five (5) years." AR, exh. 10, SSEB Report, at 4.

[4] The agency assigned the evaluation factor management plan a weight of 45 percent; the evaluation factor experience of key personnel a weight of 30 percent; and the evaluation factor past performance a weight of 25 percent.  Id. at 4.

[5] TAG's price was $35,837,798, compared to MIRACORP's price of $29,868,406.  AR, exh. 11, Source Selection Decision Document (SSDD), Aug. 3, 2016, at 2.

[6] Our decision also stated that the agency may wish to review the reasonableness of its determination that MIRACORP's human resources manager met the experience requirements of the solicitation. 

[7] The contracting officer did not retrieve the CPARs; rather, the CPAR adjectival ratings were included on the backs of the PPQs (under MIRACORP's letterhead).  AR, exh. 23, CO Declaration, at 1; CO Supp. Declaration, June 16, 2017. 

[8] TAG's protest argued that the agency improperly found MIRACORP's three past performance references to be for similar projects.  Protest at 7-10.  We dismiss this ground as untimely.  TAG received MIRACORP's proposal, which contained MIRACORP's past performance references, on January 26, 2017--during TAG's second protest of the agency's award to MIRACORP.  TAG did not raise this protest ground during that protest.  As there is no apparent reason why TAG could not have raised this protest ground once it learned MIRACORP's past performance references in January, we consider this protest ground to be raised in an unwarranted piecemeal manner.  We will not consider arguments that could have and should have been raised in prior protests.  Savee Consulting, Inc., B-408416.3, Mar. 5, 2014, 2014 CPD ¶ 92 at 5.  TAG's protest also argued that the agency's evaluation of MIRACORP's human resources manager under the key personnel evaluation factor was improper.  The agency responded to this argument in its report--explaining that the agency's new evaluation and source selection decision properly considered the human resources manager's lack of experience with similar projects to be a significant weakness.  The protester did not address the agency's response in its comments, and, under such circumstances, we view this argument as abandoned.  Earth Res. Tech., Inc., B-403043.2, B-403043.3, Oct. 18, 2010, 2010 CPD ¶ 248 at 6.

[9] The agency does not concede that these are the scores for the protester's three projects.  Rather, the agency explains that the SSA's decision to use "8+8+5" to determine TAG's past performance score was "merely a math equation," and that the numbers 8+8" "were nothing but placeholders to show that three numbers were used to arrive at the new consensus rating."  Supp. MOL, at 4.  The agency states that "8+8" is "not meant to be representative of the ratings for TAG's two conforming projects."  Id.  The agency does not explain what the scores for TAG's conforming projects should have been.  However, we need not resolve this issue because, even assuming that TAG received the highest points possible under its two similar projects (i.e. 10 points for its "outstanding" and "8 points" for its "good") we find that the protester has failed to establish it was prejudiced by this error, as explained below.

[10] Indeed, the record indicates that the SSA assigned a score of 8 for this project.  AR, exh. 22, SSDD, Apr. 28, 2017, at 12.

[11] Considering these changes, TAG's total evaluated score, considering all evaluation factors, would have been raised by only 0.16 points (1.91-1.75), that is 1.6 percent, on the agency's 10 point scale.

Nov 22, 2017

Nov 21, 2017

  • A-P-T Research, Inc.
    We deny the protest in part and dismiss the protest in part.
    B-414825,B-414825.2

Nov 20, 2017

Nov 16, 2017

  • HBI-GF, JV
    We deny the protest.
    B-415036
  • Epsilon Systems Solutions, Inc.
    We dismiss the protest because it raises a matter of contract administration over which we do not exercise jurisdiction.
    B-414410.4

Nov 15, 2017

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