Bernardo Technical Services, Inc.
B-407422: Nov 13, 2012
- Full Report:
Bernardo Technical Services, Inc. (BTSI), of San Diego, California, protests the award of a contract to Gemini 3 Group, Inc. (Gemini 3), of Stafford, Virginia, by the U.S. Marine Corps, Marine Corps System Command, under request for proposals (RFP) No. M67854-12-R-0510 for technical, analytical, and programmatic support. The protester asserts that the agency's best value tradeoff was unreasonable.
We deny the protest.
Matter of: Bernardo Technical Services, Inc.
Date: November 13, 2012
Protest that agencys best value trade off was unreasonable is denied where there is no merit to the protesters assertion that the best value to the government could be determined by an algebraic formula.
Bernardo Technical Services, Inc. (BTSI), of San Diego, California, protests the award of a contract to Gemini 3 Group, Inc. (Gemini 3), of Stafford, Virginia, by the U.S. Marine Corps, Marine Corps System Command, under request for proposals (RFP) No. M67854-12-R-0510 for technical, analytical, and programmatic support. The protester asserts that the agencys best value tradeoff was unreasonable.
We deny the protest.
As relevant to this protest, the RFP advised all offerors that award would be made to the firm whose proposal was determined to offer the best value to the agency, considering technical, past performance, and price. RFP at unnumbered page 11. Technical and past performance, when combined, were equal to price. Id. at unnumbered page 13.
The agency received proposals from five offerors, including the protester and the awardee. The table below summarizes the agencys evaluation of BTSIs and Gemini 3s proposals.
The agency determined that Gemini 3s higher-rated and higher-priced proposal represented the best value to the government and made award to that firm. This protest followed.
BTSI contends that the agency deviated from the solicitation's stated evaluation scheme when it failed to recognize the supremacy of price in the source selection scheme. BTSI describes the RFPs trade-off methodology as simple math; A+B=C, the protester argues, where A is technical, B is past performance, and C is price. Response to Request for Dismissal at 1. The two proposals from BTSI and Gemini 3 were awarded the same adjectival rating for past performance. Gemini 3s proposal was higher technically rated, while BTSIs proposal was lower priced. Because price was more important than technical, BTSI asserts, the agency was required by the terms of the solicitation to select its lower-priced proposal. Instead, the protester argues, the agency violated the simple mathematical equation by selecting the more technically higher-rated proposal; rather than A plus B equaling C, A would then have to equal C, BTSI contends. Id.
We disagree. It is well settled that adjectival ratings are merely a guide to intelligent decision-making, and it is generally improper for an agency to rely on a purely mathematical or mechanical price-technical tradeoff methodology. Master Lock Co., LLC, B-309982.2, June 24, 2008, 2009 CPD ¶ 2 at 10. Moreover, even where technical and price factors are to be weighted equally, equal weight need not be given to the differential between technical ratings and the differential between proposed prices. See IBP, Inc., B-289296, Feb. 7, 2002, 2002 CPD ¶ 39 at 5-6. Rather, the source selection official must exercise reasonable business judgment regarding the significance of the differences and what the technical differences between competing proposals might mean to contract performance. Id. Agencies enjoy discretion in making cost/technical tradeoffs where the solicitation provides for the award of a contract on a best value basis; the agencys selection decision is governed only by the test of rationality and consistency with the solicitations stated evaluation scheme. Marine Hydraulics Intl, Inc., B403386.3, May 5, 2011, 2011 CPD ¶ 98 at 4.
Here, the protester urges this Office to adopt just such a disfavored mechanical tradeoff methodology, and we decline to do so. Under the protesters mechanical trade-off methodology, the agency would be required to select an offeror whose proposed price was one dollar less than another offerors, even if the prospective awardees proposal was substantially lower-rated technically, which is clearly an absurd result. Here, we see no abuse of agency discretion where the Marine Corps reasonably selected a more highly technically rated proposal over one that was moderately lower in price.
The protest is denied.
Lynn H. Gibson
 In its comments on the agency report, the protester for the first time asserts that the agency improperly evaluated its proposal. Comments, Nov. 5, 2012, at unnumbered page 4. This allegation, based on information contained in the September 21, 2012 debriefing, was filed more than 10 days after the basis for it was known and is thus untimely. 4 C.F.R. § 21.2(a)(2).