Protest of NASA Contract Award

B-194928: Mar 25, 1980

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Two firms protested the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) selection of a third firm for final negotiations pursuant to a request for proposals (RFP). The protesters contended that NASA (1) should have amended the RFP to include Service Contract Act wage determinations, (2) improperly evaluated both cost and technical proposals, and (3) never explicitely requested best and final offers. Further, the protesters asserted that an amendment to the RFP was misleading with respect to mission suitability and probable cost factors. The record showed that NASA performed a detailed analysis of the effect on proposals of the Service Contract Act wage determination which demonstrated that wage determinations would not affect award selection and, therefore, another round of best and final offers was not required. The agency's analysis of the probable costs of doing business with the offeror correctly included costs of additional employees determined by NASA to be necessary for the offeror to adequately perform the contract's requirements. There is no requirement to increase mission suitability scores to reflect additional employees. Further, the agency's evaluation of competing cost proposals was not subject to legal objection. The determination by NASA to normalize labor escalation costs based on experience, number of Service Contract Act employees, and the fact that offerors' approaches were unrealistic in light of current economic conditions was not disturbed since it was not shown to lack a reasonable basis. The agency's advice of a common cutoff date for revised proposals was equivalent to requesting best and final offers. GAO held that the evaluation criteria for personnel and management and technical operations were sufficient to inform bidders of the relative importance of the evaluation criteria. Finally, the protesters' allegation of internal inconsistency in technical evaluation by NASA was based on misconceptions of evaluation results. The protests were denied.