Systems Integration & Development, LLC

B-417858.6,B-417858.8,B-417858.11: Nov 2, 2020

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Ralph O. White
(202) 512-8278
WhiteRO@gao.gov

Kenneth E. Patton
(202) 512-8205
PattonK@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Systems Integration & Development, LLC (SID), a small business located in Rockville, Maryland, protests the evaluation of its quotation under request for quotations (RFQ) No. 1354981, issued by the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to establish multiple blanket purchase agreements (BPAs), for information technology support services. The protester challenges the agency's evaluation of its technical quotation and argues that the evaluation reflects disparate treatment.

We deny the protest.

DOCUMENT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE
The decision issued on the date below was subject to a GAO Protective Order. This redacted version has been approved for public release.

 

Decision

Matter of:  Systems Integration & Development, LLC

File:  B-417858.6; B-417858.8; B-417858.11

Date:  November 2, 2020

David B. Dixon, Esq., Meghan D. Doherty, Esq., and Robert Starling, Esq., Pillsbury, Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, for the protester.
Antonio R. Franco, Esq., and Patrick T. Rothwell, Esq., Piliero Mazza PLLC, for AttainX, Inc.; David S. Black, Esq., Gregory R. Hallmark, Esq., Amy L. Fuentes, Esq., and Hillary J. Freund, Esq., Holland & Knight LLP, for Lynker Technologies, LLC; Terry L. Elling, Esq., and Kelsey M. Hayes, Holland & Knight LLP, for Veteran Technology Integrators, LLC; and Lee Dougherty, Esq., and Everett Dougherty, Esq., Effectus PLLC, for IBSS Corporation, the intervenors.
Ryan Lambrecht, Esq., Department of Commerce, for the agency.
Heather Weiner, Esq., and Jennifer D. Westfall-McGrail, Esq., Office of the General Counsel, GAO, participated in the preparation of the decision.

DIGEST

Protest challenging an agency’s evaluation of protester’s quotation is denied where the record reflects that the evaluation was reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation.

DECISION
 

Systems Integration & Development, LLC (SID), a small business located in Rockville, Maryland, protests the evaluation of its quotation under request for quotations (RFQ) No. 1354981, issued by the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to establish multiple blanket purchase agreements (BPAs), for information technology support services.  The protester challenges the agency’s evaluation of its technical quotation and argues that the evaluation reflects disparate treatment.

We deny the protest.

BACKGROUND

On May 30, 2019, NOAA issued the RFQ under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) subpart 8.4, to vendors holding General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) 70 Information Technology contracts.  The RFQ was issued as a small business set-aside.  The solicitation sought to establish multiple BPAs for a 5-year base period and one 5-year option.  Agency Report (AR), Tab 9, RFQ at 3, 12.  The estimated volume of purchases under the BPAs will be approximately $2.1 billion over ten (10) years.  Id. at 19.

The RFQ provided that BPAs would be established with the highest technically rated vendors with fair and reasonable prices.  Id. at 37.  The agency anticipated the establishment of 10 to 25 BPAs, though it reserved the right to establish more or fewer BPAs, at its discretion.  Id.  The solicitation identified the following three non-price evaluation factors, listed in descending order of importance:  technical capability, management approach, and past performance.  Id. at 37-38.  The solicitation provided that all factors, other than price, when combined, were significantly more important than price, and that the three non-price factors would “play a dominant role in the basis for award.”  Id.  The RFQ also explained, however, that a vendor “whose proposed prices are determined not to be fair and reasonable will not be awarded a BPA” regardless of the evaluation of the non-price factors of the quotation.  Id. at 37.

As relevant to this protest, the management approach factor required that a vendor describe its company’s organizational structure, describe its “technical capabilities as the prime,” and describe “the means to be used to provide cross-cutting services” in five identified areas, including performance work statement (PWS) section 3.2.5 – Deployment Support Services.  Id. at 35-36.  The RFQ provided that the government would evaluate, in pertinent part, the “extent to which the [vendor’s] management approach demonstrates capability and expertise to successfully meet the requirements of the cross-cutting services listed in the PWS”.  Id. at 38.

For the evaluation of the technical capability factor, the solicitation provided that the vendor “shall provide its corporate experience using the format in [a]ttachment 5,” which consisted of a technical factor matrix organized by the core management components and services areas required by the PWS.  Id. at 35, 38-39.  The solicitation required that vendors use attachment 5 to “summarize the size, scope, and complexity of work performed” by the vendor as it relates to the “six core management components and its forty respective services areas in accordance with the PWS[.]”  Id. at 35.  The RFQ provided that the agency would evaluate the extent to which the vendor “demonstrates the understanding and capability to meet the [g]overnment’s requirements in accordance with” the technical matrix.  Id. at 38-39.

Additionally, the solicitation put vendors on notice that the agency “considers statements that the prospective [vendor] understands, can, or will comply with the specifications, or statements paraphrasing the requirements or parts thereof to be inadequate and unsatisfactory” and “further considers mere reiteration of the requirement or standard reference material to also be inadequate and unsatisfactory.”  Id. at 29.

The agency received quotations from 105 vendors, including SID, by the October 1, 2019 submission deadline.  Contracting Officer’s Statement and Memorandum of Law (COS/MOL) at 10.  Eighty-five of these quotations, including SID’s, passed an initial compliance and eligibility review and were further evaluated by the agency.  Id.  The agency evaluated all 85 quotations and found all proposed prices, including SID’s, fair and reasonable.  AR, Tab 41, Award Decision Document, at 7, 8-11.  The agency evaluated SID’s quotation under the three non-price factors as follows: [1]

 

Technical Capability

Management Approach

Past Performance

SID

Acceptable

Marginal

Acceptable

Id. at 87.

In evaluating SID’s quotation under the technical capability factor, the evaluators concluded that the vendor’s quotation “meets requirements and demonstrates an adequate approach and understanding of the technical requirements,” and that “[t]he proposal contains multiple strengths that are beneficial to the Government.”  AR, Tab 35, SID Tech. Report at 1.  The evaluators explained that the “weaknesses identified are not significant enough to impact the overall Acceptable rating.”  Id.  With regard to the management approach factor, the evaluators found that SID’s quotation “does not clearly meet the requirements” and therefore does not “demonstrate[ ] an understanding of the management requirements.”  AR, Tab 37, SID Management Report, at 1.  The evaluators explained that, although the quotation “offers strengths that are advantageous to the Government,” a “deficiency and a weakness are identified to impact the Overall rating of a Marginal.”  Id.  The evaluators found that the risk of unsuccessful contract performance is high.  Id.

The source selection official (SSO) noted that SID’s management quotation “did meet some of the requirements and presented strengths listed under the PWS but failed to address some areas of the PWS resulting in a deficiency.”  AR, Tab 41, Award Decision Document, at 87.  The SSO found that SID’s quotation demonstrated “adequate organizational structure with clear lines of communication and authority,” but did not display “an understanding of deployment support services.”  Id.  In particular, the SSO noted that SID’s quotation “did not demonstrate an understanding of the extent to which deployment services might be necessary as they simply describe their processes for travel.”  Id.  The SSO also found that SID’s quotation did not mention “required deployment processing and necessary deployment training and protective equipment” or “providing employees who are medically fit and ‘capable of enduring the rigors of deployment in the designated location.’”  Id.  The SSO explained that the “Government has no confidence that the [vendor] understands what is required of them.”  Id.  The SSO concluded that this was a deficiency because “the risk of unsuccessful contract performance is unacceptably high as the [vendor’s] write up didn’t give the Government much confidence in [the vendor’s] ability to provide these services, which would be a detriment to contract success.”  Id.

In making his award determination, which did not include a BPA for SID, the SSO explained that 57 of the 85 quotations evaluated received a marginal or unacceptable rating under at least one of the three non-price factors.  Id. at 107.  The SSO further explained that, “[a]lthough these quotes’ prices are found to be fair and reasonable,” these quotations “all contain multiple significant weaknesses and/or deficiencies that fail to demonstrate the [vendors]’ understanding, capability and expertise to meet the Government’s requirements.”  Id.  The SSO found that “these quotes reveal a poor understanding of the overall requirements listed under the BPA, which significantly increase[s] the risk of poor performance.”  Id.  The SSO concluded that “[d]ue to failure to demonstrate understanding, capability and expertise, and due to high performance risk,” these “57 quotes are not evaluated as Highest Technically Rated.”  Id.

On July 13, 2020, the agency notified SID that its quotation was not among the highest technically rated and had not been selected for a BPA.  AR, Tab 45, Unsuccessful Vendor Letter, at 1.  SID then timely filed this protest with our Office. 

DISCUSSION

SID challenges the agency’s evaluation of its quotation under the management approach factor, arguing that the assignment of a deficiency for deployment support services was unreasonable and based on an unequal evaluation.[2]  The protester also challenges the evaluation of its quotation under the technical capability factor, arguing that the agency unreasonably assessed several weaknesses to SID’s quotation and engaged in disparate treatment in evaluating quotations under this factor.  The protester asserts that, but for these evaluation flaws, SID’s quotation would have been found one of the most highly rated.  As discussed below, we find that the agency’s evaluation of SID’s quotation under the management approach and technical capability factors was reasonable.[3] 

Where, as here, an agency issues an RFQ to FSS vendors under FAR subpart 8.4 and conducts a competition, we will review the record to ensure that the agency’s evaluation is reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation.  Digital Sols., Inc., B‑402067, Jan. 12, 2010, 2010 CPD ¶ 26 at 3-4; DEI Consulting, B-401258, July 13, 2009, 2009 CPD ¶ 151 at 2.  In reviewing a protest challenging an agency’s technical evaluation, our Office will not reevaluate the quotations; rather, we will examine the record to determine whether the agency’s evaluation conclusions were reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation and applicable procurement laws and regulations.  OPTIMUS Corp., B-400777, Jan. 26, 2009, 2009 CPD ¶ 33 at 4.  A protester’s disagreement with the agency’s judgment, without more, does not establish that an evaluation was unreasonable.  DEI Consulting, supra.

Management Approach Factor

As explained in greater detail below, the evaluators assigned SID’s quotation a deficiency under PWS section 3.2.5 – Deployment Support Services. The protester argues that the agency’s assignment of this deficiency was improper because SID’s quotation provided a thorough response to the deployment support services requirement.  Alternatively, the protester asserts that the agency evaluated vendors’ quotations unequally with regard to PWS section 3.2.5.  The agency argues that its evaluation was reasonable because SID’s quotation either merely parroted the solicitation requirements, without adequately addressing the elements of the PWS requirement or demonstrating SID’s understanding of the services, or simply failed to include information required by the RFQ. 

PWS section 3.2.5, Deployment Support Services, defined deployment support as follows:

Deployment support is for services that range from supporting and repairing equipment deployed to a location, other than the location to which it is primarily assigned, or deploying contractor personnel to a location to support training missions, exercises, contingencies, or crisis situations.

AR, Tab 1a, RFQ, attach. 1, PWS at 24.  The PWS explained that the “government will define contractor functions, which may be deployable within the task orders.”  Id.  It also specified that “[c]ontractor personnel performing these functions are expected to accomplish all required deployment processing and receive all necessary deployment training and protective equipment” in accordance with the “participating organization’s processes outlined in the task order.”  Id.  The PWS further stated that the “contractor is expected to provide employees who are medically fit and capable of enduring the rigors of deployment in the designated location” and that the “contractor is expected to comply with all deployment requirements established by the NOAA Administrator, including immunization and medical screening.”  Id. 

In response to this PWS requirement, SID’s quotation stated the following:

[DELETED].

AR, Tab 19, SID Management Approach Quotation, at II-15, II-16.

The evaluators found that SID’s quotation “does not demonstrate an understanding of the extent to which deployment services might be necessary as they simply describe their processes for travel.”  AR, Tab 37, SID Management Report, at 1.  The evaluators also found that SID’s quotation “mention[s] nothing of required deployment processing and necessary deployment training and protective equipment.”  Id.  They also stated that the vendor “mentions nothing about providing employees who are medically fit and ‘capable of enduring the rigors of deployment in the designated location.’”  Id.  The evaluators concluded that “[t]his is a deficiency because the [g]overnment feels the risk of unsuccessful contract performance is unacceptably high as the [vendor’s] write up doesn’t give the [g]overnment much confidence in their actual ability to provide these services, which would be a detriment to contract success.”  Id.  The evaluators also stated that “[t]he [g]overnment has no confidence that the [vendor] understands what is required of them.”  Id. 

The protester argues that the agency’s assignment of this deficiency was unreasonable and reflects an incomplete reading of SID’s quotation.  In the protester’s view, SID’s response to this specific requirement, quoted above, was a thorough response and should have satisfied the requirement.  As an example, the protester points to the following sentence from its quotation:  “[DELETED].”  AR, Tab 19, SID Management Approach Quotation, at II-16.  The protester contends that this statement disproves the conclusion of the evaluators that SID’s quotation did not address the requirement to provide personnel who are “medically fit and capable of enduring the rigors of deployment in the designated location.”  PWS at 24.

The agency responds that the sentence in SID’s quotation relied upon by the protester-- that SID “[DELETED]”--merely states that the vendor will ensure actions are taken, but does not describe what those actions are, and fails to demonstrate what SID will do to provide medically fit and trained employees.  COS/MOL at 18.  Additionally, the agency asserts that, SID’s quotation, by stating that it will ensure its staff has immunization and medical screens “if” they are required, “demonstrated a lack of understanding about the requirement” because “immunizations and medical screenings are a defined requirement for deployment support.”  Id

The agency also points out that SID’s quotation, in discussing deployment, stated that “[DELETED].”  AR, Tab 19, SID Management Approach Quotation, at II-16.  The agency explains that, by discussing deployment as “[DELETED]” travel, SID’s quotation demonstrated a lack of understanding about the effort required to respond to “support training missions, exercises, contingencies, or crisis situations” as specified by the requirement.[4]  COS/MOL at 18; PWS at 24.  The agency states, for example, that “SID’s description of its travel capabilities did not demonstrate how it would book travel in the event of a crisis situation or contingency, such as a hurricane.”  Id.  In response to this argument, the protester maintains that the PWS did not contain a distinction between “deployment” and “regular travel,” and that, in any event, the references to “travel” in SID’s quotation “clearly address[ed] the travel that inherently is required as part of a deployment.”  Supp. Comments at 9. 

We conclude that the agency reasonably assessed a deficiency to SID’s quotation under the management approach factor based on the agency’s determination that SID’s quotation failed to demonstrate an understanding of what deployment services might be necessary, and instead, simply described the vendor’s processes for travel.  The evaluators were concerned that SID’s quotation failed to demonstrate an understanding of the PWS requirement for the contractor to send “contractor personnel to a location to support training missions, exercises, contingencies or crisis situations.”  PWS at 24.  As noted above, the PWS specified that “[c]ontractor personnel performing these functions are expected to accomplish all required deployment processing and receive all necessary deployment training and protective equipment[.]”  Id.  The agency found that SID’s quotation did not adequately respond to the requirement, particularly with regard to contingencies or crisis situations.  As we have recognized, it is a vendor’s obligation to submit an adequately-written quotation for the agency to evaluate, and a quotation that fails to address the solicitation requirements may reasonably be downgraded for lacking sufficient detail.  See Undercover Training, LLC, B-418170, Jan. 9, 2020, 2020 CPD ¶ 25 at 4-5.  While, as noted above, the protester disagrees with the agency regarding the thoroughness of its response, it has not, in our view, demonstrated that the agency’s findings were unreasonable.

The protester also argues that the agency engaged in unequal treatment in assigning the deficiency because the agency assessed weaknesses to two other vendors’ quotations, rather than deficiencies, despite the fact that the agency’s criticisms of the other vendors’ quotations, in connection with these vendors’ deployment support responses, were very similar to the agency’s criticism of SID’s quotation.  Supp. Comments at 11.  We find no merit to this argument. 

In conducting procurements, agencies may not generally engage in conduct that amounts to unfair or disparate treatment of competing vendors.  Arc Aspicio, LLC; et al., B-412612 et al., Apr. 11, 2016, 2016 CPD ¶ 117 at 13.  Where a protester alleges unequal treatment in a technical evaluation, it must show that the differences in ratings did not stem from differences between the vendors’ quotations.  See Camber Corp., B‑413505, Nov. 10, 2016, 2016 CPD ¶ 350 at 8.

The record reflects that one quotation was assigned a weakness because the vendor did not “describe any processes in place for providing employees that are medically fit and capable of enduring the rigors of deployment in the designated location.”  AR, Tab 81, Lynker Management Report, at 1.  The agency, explains, however, that although this quotation did not demonstrate the vendor’s process for providing physically and medically fit employees, it met most elements of the requirement by providing multiple examples and details of the vendor’s experience and processes.  See, e.g., AR, Tab 65, Lynker Quotation, at 2‑15 (demonstrating that it has the capability and expertise to repair and service equipment such as [DELETED] and [DELETED] in remote locations such as hurricane-damaged [DELETED] and [DELETED]); id. (demonstrating how it deploys its personnel to remote locations through the use of [DELETED], [DELETED] and [DELETED]); id. (providing detailed information about preparing for deployment services through the use of [DELETED] and [DELETED]). 

Similarly, although the other vendor was assessed a weakness because the agency found that its quotation did not demonstrate its process for providing physically and medically fit employees, as required by the PWS, AR, Tab 85, VTI Management Report, at 1, the agency explains that this vendor’s quotation met most of the elements of the PWS requirement, and therefore deserved a weakness, rather than a deficiency.  See, e.g., AR, Tab 82, VTI Quotation, at 55 (demonstrating an understanding of deployment support operations by discussing “[DELETED]” and how “[DELETED”); id. (discussing the planning and processing steps for [DELETED], such as “provid[ing] [DELETED]”; “[DELETED]”; and “[DELETED].”). 

As discussed above, the agency found that SID’s quotation, in contrast, described its process for regular travel and merely repeated the contents of the PWS requirement.  COS/MOL at 15-18.  The protester has failed to demonstrate that the weaknesses received by the other vendors did not stem from differences between the quotations.  Camber Corp., supra.  We find no basis to sustain the protest.  In sum, we find nothing unreasonable regarding the agency’s evaluation of SID’s quotation under the management approach factor. 

Technical Capability Factor

The protester next challenges the agency’s assessment of numerous weaknesses assigned to SID’s quotation under the technical capability factor, arguing they were unreasonable and reflect disparate treatment.  The protester contends that, had its quotation not received these weaknesses, it would have earned a rating higher than acceptable under this, the most important, factor.  The protester asserts that this would have been sufficient for its quotation to overcome the deficiency it received under the management approach factor, and make it one of the highest technically rated quotations with a fair and reasonable price.  The agency argues that the assessment of the weaknesses was reasonable because in each instance the protester’s quotation did not fully address the requirements or merely restated the requirements, without demonstrating the protester’s understanding and capability to meet the requirements, as required by the RFQ.  We discuss two representative examples below.

For the evaluation of the technical capability factor, the RFQ required that vendors “summarize the size, scope, and complexity of work performed by the [vendor]” as it relates to the “six core management components and its forty respective service[s] areas in accordance with the PWS.”  RFQ at 35.  The solicitation provided that the agency would evaluate the extent to which the vendor “demonstrates the understanding and capability to meet the [g]overnment’s requirements in accordance with” the technical matrix.  Id. at 38-39.  As relevant here, PWS section 3.1.2.5 provided that the contractor is expected to provide “IT infrastructure installation, necessary IT equipment and software for the solution, and decommissioning services for the participating IT organization and customer locations throughout the world.”  PWS at 9.  The requirement also provided that “services include, but are not limited to” a bulleted list of services, such as: providing local and worldwide engineering and installation management; conducting site surveys; estimating bills of materials; deploying of IT capabilities (e.g., workstations, desktops, printers, and peripherals, Voice Over Internet Protocol phones, video displays, and video teleconferencing) to customers’ workspaces; and decommissioning and removal of legacy equipment or infrastructure that is no longer required.  Id.

The agency assigned a weakness to SID’s quotation for PWS section 3.1.2.5, Customer Information Technology (IT) Infrastructure Installation, Build Outs, and Decommissioning, because the vendor’s quotation was “limited to outlining capability of IT infrastructure installation and build outs in areas of telecommunication and network infrastructures, but did not discuss experience of deploying IT capabilities involving workstations, desktops, printers and peripherals.”  AR, Tab 35, SID Tech. Report, at 2.  The agency also found that SID’s quotation “did not discuss capability of decommissioning and removal of legacy equipment or infrastructure that is no longer required.”  The evaluators found that this was a weakness because it increases the risk of unsuccessful contract performance.  Id.

The protester disagrees with the assessment of this weakness, and points to several provisions in its quotation, which it asserts, adequately addressed SID’s experience deploying IT capabilities involving workstations, desktops, printers and peripherals,[5] as well as SID’s experience with the decommissioning and removal of legacy equipment or infrastructure.[6]  See Protest at 13 (citing AR, Tab 19, SID Quotation, at I-12, I-19).

The agency responds that the provisions of SID’s quotation are not helpful because they either do not demonstrate SID’s experience with examples or details, or merely paraphrase the PWS requirement.  The agency maintains that it could not credit SID for paraphrasing the requirement because to do so would violate the solicitation’s evaluation criteria and explicit instructions for vendors to “demonstrate the understanding and capability to meet the government’s requirements.”  RFQ at 38. 

We conclude that the record supports the reasonableness of the agency’s evaluation.  It is a vendor’s responsibility to submit a wellwritten quotation, with adequately detailed information that clearly demonstrates compliance with the solicitation and allows a meaningful review by the procuring agency.  Undercover Training, supra.  Simply restating or paraphrasing the requirements of the RFQ are not sufficient in this regard.  The RFQ provided that the agency would evaluate the extent to which the vendor “demonstrates the understanding and capability to meet the [g]overnment’s requirements[.]”  RFQ at 38.  To the extent the protester contends that its quotation was sufficient, or should have been interpreted differently, the protester’s disagreement, without more, is insufficient to establish the agency’s evaluation was unreasonable.  DEI Consulting, supra.  On this record, we find no basis to sustain the protest.

As another example, the protester challenges a weakness assigned to its quotation based on PWS requirements for “mission and business application, tool development, test integration, and maintenance.”  The PWS specified that these services focus on “designing, developing, testing, integrating, deploying, and maintaining applications, tools, services, and other software” as required by a task order in order to “improve business and mission capabilities and improve application effectiveness.”  PWS at 11.  As relevant here, the PWS also stated that the services include, in pertinent part:  implementing solutions which follow Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Department of Commerce (DOC), and NOAA strategies and policies regarding federal data management and dissemination, including open government, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and data privacy considerations; and supporting multiple production and development and test databases across multiple platforms simultaneously (such as Oracle, [structured query language] SQL Server, Progress [relational database management system] RDBMS) on Unix, Linux, and Windows platforms.  Id. 

In assessing a weakness to SID’s quotation, the agency found that the quotation did not discuss “capability of implementing solutions which follow OMB, DOC, and NOAA strategies and policies regarding federal data management and dissemination, including open government, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and data privacy considerations.”  AR, Tab 35, SID Tech. Report, at 3.  The agency also found that SID’s quotation did not “mention capability of supporting multiple production and development and test databases across multiple platforms simultaneously (such as Oracle, SQL Server, Progress RDBMS on Unix, Linux, and Windows platforms.”  Id. 

In response, SID points to various statements in its quotation, which the protester contends, adequately addressed these PWS requirements.  See, e.g., AR, Tab 19, SID Technical Proposal, at I-13 (“We implemented [DELETED].”); id. at I-13 (explaining that under a previous NOAA contract, it “[DELETED]”); id. at I-14 (“Our team provides [DELETED]”); id. at I-26 (“Team members maintained and managed [DELETED].”); and id. at I-36 (explaining that SID has been involved in “[DELETED].”).

The agency responds that the above examples do not demonstrate the missing elements of the PWS requirement because they are irrelevant to the evaluation criteria, vague, or do not meet all of the requirements of the evaluation criteria.  Supp. COS/MOL at 23.  For example, with regard to the 508 compliance references, the agency explains that, as reflected in its evaluation, while the quotation was required to demonstrate compliance with multiple DOC and NOAA policies, the  policies with which SID’s quotation failed to demonstrate compliance were “open government, FOIA and data privacy.”  AR, Tab 35, SID Tech. Report, at 3.  Accordingly, although the agency acknowledges that the provisions cited by the protester “mention compliance with Section 508 of the Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973,” the agency asserts that “Section 508 compliance was not a policy that NOAA’s evaluators rated SID as failing to demonstrate.”  COS/MOL at 34-35; AR, Tab 35, SID Tech. Report, at 3.  As such, the agency maintains that these portions of SID’s quotation are not relevant to the weakness.  With regard to the other provision cited, the agency responds that the cited language “only contains a vague reference to unnamed ‘other standards’” and therefore is insufficient to meet the requirement.  COS/MOL at 35.  Similarly, with respect to the cited provisions in SID’s quotation regarding multiple databases, the agency responds that the quotation “name[s] multiple databases and multiple Linux and Windows platforms,” but it “does not specifically state that it had experience supporting multiple production, development and test databases across multiple platforms simultaneously.”  COS/MOL at 36.

We conclude that the agency’s evaluation was reasonable.[7]  As previously referenced, it is a vendor’s obligation to submit an adequately written quotation for the agency to evaluate.  Undercover Training, supra.  It is not apparent from SID’s quotation, or from the protester’s submissions to our Office in connection with the protest, that the cited portions of SID’s quotation demonstrated SID’s “understanding and capability to meet” all of the requirements for this PWS requirement.  To the extent the protester contends that its quotation was sufficient, or should have been interpreted differently, the protester’s disagreement, without more, is insufficient to establish the agency’s evaluation was unreasonable.  DEI Consulting, supra.

The protest is denied.

Thomas H. Armstrong
General Counsel

 

[1] Quotations were evaluated under the technical capability and management approach factors as outstanding, good, acceptable, marginal, and unacceptable.  Id. at 5.  Under the past performance factor, quotations were evaluated as outstanding, acceptable, marginal, unacceptable, and neutral.  Id. at 6-7.  An unacceptable rating was defined as a quotation that “fails to meet requirements” and contains “multiple significant weaknesses and/or deficiencies.”  Id. at 5.  A rating of unacceptable under any factor would render a quotation ineligible for award.  Id.

[2] The protester also initially challenged the evaluation of its quotation under the past performance factor, as well as a weakness assessed to its quotation under the management approach factor for spelling and grammatical errors throughout its quotation, but later withdrew these allegations.  See Comments at 3, n.2.

[3] Although we do not specifically address all of SID’s arguments, we have fully considered all of them and find that none provides a basis on which to sustain the protest.

[4] The agency also states that, with regard to the PWS requirement for “preparing, training and equipping its staff to provide deployment support,” SID’s quotation failed to mention or demonstrate its ability to provide these requirements.  COS/MOL at 18.

[5] Specifically, the protester cited to the following provision in its quotation:

[DELETED].

AR, Tab 19, SID Technical Quotation, at I-12.

[6] This provision provided the following:

[DELETED].

Id. at I-19.

[7] The protester also argues that the agency failed to follow the terms of the solicitation in performing its best-value analysis because, rather than considering and weighing the non-price evaluation factors, it decided to make an award to every vendor that received an acceptable rating or better for each non-price factor.  Supp. Comments at 3.  In light of our findings, above, that the agency reasonably evaluated SID’s quotation under the technical capability factor as acceptable, and under the management approach factor as marginal, we need not address this aspect of the protest in our decision.

Jan 14, 2021

Jan 13, 2021

Looking for more? Browse all our products here