Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Government Can't Read Between the Lines

The Government does not have the time and resources when evaluating proposals to "clean up" offerors' submissions. It is the offerors' responsibility to submit an adequately written proposal that establishes, among a host of things, its capability and the merits of its proposed approach. Additionally, the proposal must be responsive to the evaluation terms of the submission.

A recent Comptroller General decision involving a bid protest by Wolf Creek, an affiliate of a much larger company and Government contractor, Chugach, illustrates the problem when a company assumes that the Government will put "two and two" together.

Wolf Creek submitted a bid to NASA for facilities operations and maintenance support services. In evaluating past performance, NASA assigned a "neutral" rating to Wolf Creek. Although Wolf Creek provided past performance related to seven contracts that had been performed by subsidiaries of Chugach (of which Wolf Creek was also a subsidiary), it provided no past performance information for itself.

Wolf Creek argued that it provided records of significant accomplishment by its affiliates and demonstrated the meaningful roles they would plan in contract performance. Wolf Creek noted that its past performance proposal informed NASA that it would directly use the experience of personnel who have played key management roles with the Chugach subsidiaries from which past performance was drawn.

NASA countered by stating that Wolf Creek's proposal identified no meaningful role for Chugach or any of its subsidiaries in actually performing the requirements in the PWS (Performance Work Statement) - neither with management or with other resources. Wolf Creek's proposal only described general consultation and advisory roles for its affiliates. NASA did not find this to be "meaningful" involvement. In any event, the information was not provided in Wolf Creek's past performance proposal but was tucked elsewhere into
Wolf Creek's mission suitability proposal.

GAO's job in these situations is to determine whether the agency's judgment was reasonable and consistent with the stated evaluation criteria and aplicable statutes and regulations. Citing a previous decision, the GAO stated that an agency may properly consider the experience or past performance of an offeror's affiliated companies where the firm's proposal demonstrates that the resources of the affiliated company will affect the performance of the offeror. The key here is that the affiliated company must have meaningful involvement in the project.

In this case, the GAO ruled that the record supported NASA's determination that Wolf Creek's proposal failed to show that the Chugach family of companies would contribute to Wolf Creek's performance on the PWS requirements.Therefore, GAO concluded that NASA acted reasonably.

You can read the entire decision by clicking here.

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