Matter of: Modasco, Inc. File: B-258708 Date: February 13, 1995

B-258708: Feb 13, 1995

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Protester's proposal was properly eliminated from the competitive range under the solicitation which called for industry-wide partnership teams to develop a new paradigm for the design and construction of residential housing. " the objective of which is to develop innovative system engineering approaches to advanced housing that will enable the domestic housing industry to deliver affordable and environmentally sensitive housing while maintaining profitability and competitiveness of homebuilders and product suppliers in the marketplace both in the United States (U.S.) and abroad. [1] The RFP statement of work (SOW) stated: "The objective of this project is to promote system engineering approaches to the development of advanced residential buildings.

Matter of: Modasco, Inc. File: B-258708 Date: February 13, 1995

Protester's proposal was properly eliminated from the competitive range under the solicitation which called for industry-wide partnership teams to develop a new paradigm for the design and construction of residential housing, where the protester essentially limited its proposal to implementing only one new component of a house, failed to form a partnership team with broad industry representation, and failed to provide a detailed proposal with regard to two of the three required tasks.

Attorneys

DECISION

Modasco, Inc. protests the elimination of its proposal from the competitive range under request for proposals (RFP) No. RAR-4-14061, issued for the Department of Energy (DOE), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), by Midwest Research, National Renewable Energy Laboratory Division, the prime management and operations contractor for NREL.

We deny the protest.

The RFP, issued February 14, 1994, contemplated award of several cost participation, task order agreements for a project entitled "Systems Engineering Approaches to Development of Advanced Residential Buildings." The RFP implemented phase II of the DOE-sponsored "Building America Initiative," the objective of which is to develop innovative system engineering approaches to advanced housing that will enable the domestic housing industry to deliver affordable and environmentally sensitive housing while maintaining profitability and competitiveness of homebuilders and product suppliers in the marketplace both in the United States (U.S.) and abroad. [1] The RFP statement of work (SOW) stated:

"The objective of this project is to promote system engineering approaches to the development of advanced residential buildings, including production techniques, products, and technologies that result in more efficient, better quality, and more affordable housing.

"A systems approach for development of advanced residential buildings is defined to be any approach that utilizes comprehensive examination and analysis of overall design, delivery, business practices, and construction processes, including financing, and performs cost and performance tradeoffs between individual building components and construction steps that produce a net improvement in overall building performance. A systems approach includes the use of systems engineering and operations research techniques. A systems approach requires integrated participation and team building among all stakeholders in the building process including architects, engineers, builders, equipment manufacturers, material suppliers, community planners, mortgage lenders, and others.

"The project is expected to contribute to the development of a new paradigm for delivery of energy efficient, affordable, quality housing that results in a significant reduction in the time required to bring new products and systems to market, a significant increase in the energy performance of new housing, a significant increase in construction productivity, a significant increase in the use of recycled materials, a significant reduction in waste produced during housing construction, and a significant increase in the global competitive position of the U.S. in advanced housing materials and components.

"Each proposing team shall have sufficient breadth to include all the major types of companies involved in design, construction, and delivery of the typical residential building in the U.S. including equipment component and material manufacturers . . . ."

The RFP provided a mailing list of more than 250 organizations and stated that:

"[b]ecause teaming arrangements are required under this solicitation document . . . the mailing list for this solicitation document is included to assist [o]fferors in identifying other organizations that may be interested in proposing for this project."

The RFP divided the project into three task areas:

"Task I - Requirements for Development of Advanced Residential Building Systems;

"Task II - Test Houses; and

"Task III - Advanced Production and delivery." [emphasis in original].

The RFP provided for a best value basis for evaluating proposals, listing the following evaluation factors in descending order of importance:

1. Technical (35 percent)

2. Cost Realism and Cost Participation (30 percent)

3. Management & Team Composition (25 percent)

4. Small Business and Small Disadvantaged Business Involvement (10 percent).

NREL received 22 proposals by the June 10 due date. The source evaluation panel (SEP) evaluated and scored each proposal according to the evaluation plan stated in the RFP. Modasco's proposal was ranked twentieth of the 22 proposals received. Based on the SEP evaluation, the source selection board (SSB) established a competitive range that did not include Modasco. [2]

By letter of September 6, NREL notified Modasco that its proposal had been eliminated from the competitive range for the following three reasons:

1. The proposal did not take a comprehensive systems engineering approach, but rather focused on a single component--a solar roof concept;

2. The proposed team lacked strong building industry involvement; and

3. The proposal did not fully develop Tasks II and III.

Modasco protests the elimination of its proposal from the competitive range.

The competitive range consists of all proposals that have a reasonable chance of being selected for award. Where a proposal would require major revisions or essentially the submission of a new proposal before it could be considered eligible for award, the proposal need not be included in the competitive range. See TSM Corp., B-252362.2, July 12, 1993, 93-2 CPD Para. 13. The evaluation of proposals and the resulting determination as to whether a particular offer is in the competitive range are matters within the discretion of the contracting agency because it is responsible for defining its needs and determining the best method of accommodating them. Id. Our Office will not substitute its judgment for the agency's regarding the relative merits of proposals, but rather will examine the proposals and the agency's evaluation to ensure that the evaluation was reasonable and consistent with applicable statutes and regulations, and the stated evaluation criteria. Id. Based on our review as discussed further below, the agency reasonably eliminated Modasco's proposal from the competitive range.

First, NREL reasonably found that Modasco's proposal failed to demonstrate a comprehensive systems engineering approach to the development of advanced residential buildings. The most important evaluation criteria, "Technical," referenced the SOW and clearly provided for evaluation of a comprehensive systems engineering approach:

"that utilizes comprehensive examination and analysis of overall design, delivery, business practices, and construction processes, including financing, and performs cost and performance tradeoffs between individual building components and construction steps that produce a net improvement in overall building performance."

Modasco's proposal was limited to implementing a component technology for innovating the roof system, called "SOLAROOF," as a means of reducing home energy consumption. Modasco's proposal stated that its "primary goal is to convert [a portion of the solar energy falling on roofs] for residential use [using SOLAROOF technology]," and that:

"its project objective was to evaluate the technical and economic merits of the SOLAROOF concept and develop the communication techniques between building components and systems within an interactive environment and then demonstrate this on a test house. From the data generated[,] a commercialization business plan will be developed."

In defining the scope of its technical approach, Modasco stated that:

"[t]he innovative approach proposed is to utilize off the shelf equipment with minimum modifications on both the roof tile/shingles and the conventional home construction practices."

The proposal included "SOLAROOF Task Work Assignments," a "SOLAROOF Project Bar Chart" and a "SOLAROOF Organization Chart." In sum, Modasco's proposed systems engineering effort essentially falls within the context of implementing the SOLAROOF technology and fails to address the objective of this RFP for project teams to develop "a new paradigm" for housing design and construction. Thus, NREL reasonably found Modasco's proposal to be so deficient under the technical factor as to require major revisions in order to be considered eligible for award.

Second, NREL reasonably found that Modasco's proposal failed to propose a team having sufficient breadth of industry stakeholders to include participation from all the major types of companies involved in design, construction, and delivery of the typical residential building in the U.S., including equipment, component and material manufacturers, as required by the "Management & Team Composition" evaluation factor and the SOW. Modasco's proposed team included only one member, other than itself, which could arguably be considered a stakeholder in the U.S homebuilding process, and this member's involvement was focused only on the incorporation of a potential building system control device. All of the remaining members of Modasco's proposed team were either in-house subsidiaries or individual consultants with academic or state government backgrounds. Although these team members were found to offer relevant technical expertise, the Modasco team fails to meet the RFP requirement for an industry-oriented stakeholder partnership. Thus, the agency's determination that Modasco's proposed team composition was deficient and would require major revision to be considered for award was also reasonable.

Finally, Modasco's proposal failed to provide a detailed description of its task plan for Tasks II and III. The RFP cautioned offerors that:

"the initial evaluation of any proposal will be made upon a review of the written proposal only . . . . Therefore, [o]fferors are cautioned to ensure that their written proposal properly reflects their ability to satisfy the requirements of the [RFP]; and, that the proposal is as complete, detailed, and thorough as is possible."

The RFP further stated that:

"[t]he technical proposal shall clearly describe the multi-year development strategy that is being proposed, and the changes in research emphasis that will occur during different phases of the project. In addition, the proposal shall clearly define the interim milestones that define transitions between different phases of the project."

Although Modasco's proposal provided a detailed description of the proposed performance under Task I, it failed to provide such detail for the proposed performance under Tasks II and III. Of the 15 work activities which Modasco listed for Task II, the proposal simply stated "self explanatory" next to all but five. Likewise, for 14 activities listed under Task III, Modasco failed to provide any description for all but four activities. Modasco concedes that it did not provide details for Task II and states that its proposal to implement SOLAROOF in a multi-unit development satisfies Task III--which, as indicated above, does not satisfy the agency's requirements. Thus, here too, the agency's determination that Modasco's proposal would require major revisions to be considered for award was reasonable.

Since the record shows that Modasco's proposal would require major revision before it could be considered eligible for award, NREL reasonably eliminated Modasco's proposal from the competitive range. Id.

The protest is denied.

1. Phase I of the initiative consisted of a pilot subcontract to demonstrate the viability of housing industry consortia.

2. We do not disclose how many proposals are included in the competitive range since award has not been made, pending our disposition of this protest.

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