Protest of Agency's Technical Evaluation of Proposal

B-196454: Feb 8, 1980

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An individual protested the award of a contract under a request for proposals (RFP) for an evaluation of employment practices of state drinking water agencies issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The protester proposed to manage other consultants in performance of the evaluation. The protester contended that EPA improperly declared his proposal technically unacceptable, thereby removing it from the competitive range for negotiation. The grounds for the protest were: (1) that in evaluating proposals, EPA placed too much emphasis on corporate experience, the effect of which was to exclude qualified firms without EPA experience; (2) that EPA unfairly assessed the protester's proposal in the area of management experience and personnel requirements and used criteria not contained in the RFP; and (3) that EPA unfairly evaluated the protester's allocation of man-hours and the specificity of the proposal's technical approach. The issue of corporate experience concerned use of the first evaluation category in the RFP. Alleged improprieties in any solicitation which are apparent prior to the closing time for receipt of proposals must be protested prior to that closing time to be considered; therefore, this issue was filed in an untimely manner. With regard to the matter of the EPA evaluation of the protester's proposal in the area of personnel requirements, GAO concluded that, given the information provided by the protester, it was not unreasonable for EPA to downgrade the protester in this area. Each evaluation subcriterion need not be disclosed in a solicitation so long as offerors are advised of the basic criteria and the factors considered are sufficiently related to the announced criterion. Finally, a review of the record indicated that the protester's proposal was only downgraded a total of 5 points out of 100 total evaluation points in the areas of the technical approach and the allocation of man hours. Even adding to the protester's rating the five points deducted in this area, he would have been well below the cutoff score for the competitive range in this procurement. Accordingly, the protest was denied.