[Protest of Navy Contract Award for Technical Services]

B-218335: Jun 28, 1985

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A firm protested a Navy contract award, contending that the Navy did not properly evaluate technical/cost proposals in accordance with the solicitation's stated criteria. GAO noted that offerers were required to submit technical and cost proposals so that the Navy could perform a technical/cost tradeoff analysis to examine the effect of superior technical quality on the overall cost to the government. The Navy determined that: (1) the protester was the highest rated offerer and could provide the most efficient performance; however, its superior technical merit was not enough to justify the award; (2) the awardee's technically inferior proposal could be overcome by the application of additional contractor and government man-hours which would still cost less than the protester's best and final offer price; and (3) the awardee's proposal would be most advantageous to the government. GAO noted that, in a negotiated procurement, contracting agency officials have broad discretion in determining the use of technical and cost evaluation results; however, the contracting agency's selection of a technically inferior proposal over a technically superior proposal deviated from established evaluation criteria. GAO found that: (1) the awardee would not be able to perform the contract on a similar qualitative basis as the protester; (2) the solicitation's evaluation scheme provided that cost was of secondary importance to technical considerations; and (3) the contracting officer abused his discretion by placing primary importance on cost absent a reasonable justification for his action. Accordingly, the protest was sustained.