Protest Alleging Bias on Part of Proposal Evaluators

B-197245: Feb 19, 1981

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A firm protested the selection of the successful offeror by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The protester raised the following grounds of protest: (1) the failure of NASA to select the protester was the consequence of persistent bias and prejudice against the protester because it provides pension benefits to its employees through a stock ownership plan; (2) the awardee lacked the capability to develop and implement the management information system and was engaged in an effort to raid the protester's staff for the purpose of obtaining the necessary expertise to complete the mission described in the request for proposals (RFP); (3) NASA violated its procurement regulation directive (PRD) under the RFP evaluation criterion of the Total Compensation Plan based upon an erroneous definition of professional employee; (4) NASA violated its PRD during the course of written and oral discussions by failing to identify various aspects of the protester's proposal that were either not clear or lacked adequate substantiation; (5) NASA violated its cost-plus-award fee contracting guide; and (6) the NASA scoring of the RFP was without a rational basis. GAO held that: (1) the protester did not affirmatively prove its allegations of unfair or prejudicial motives; (2) NASA had a rational basis for evaluating the offeror's management plan and key personnel; (3) the allegation that the protester's compensation plan was improperly evaluated was not supported by the record; (4) the questions that NASA asked complied with its PRD, especially in view of the fact that during written discussions NASA clearly asked the protester to provide a rationale for its system; (5) the NASA cost-plus-award fee contracting guide did not limit the use of this type of contract only to level-of-effort contracts; and (6) the NASA scoring and evaluation were reasonable. Accordingly, the protest was denied.