Monday, October 17, 2016

Failure to Follow Solicitation Instructions Leads to Lost Opportunity

In 2015, GSA (General Services Administration) issued a solicitation for "customized training and development services, customized human capital strategy services, and customized organizational performance improvement services". The solicitation contemplated multiple awards under an ID/IQ (indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity) arrangement where individual task orders would be issued.

Awards were to be based on best value but to be eligible for consideration, offerors had to have performed at least six "relevant experience projects" (REPs). Further, offerors had to substantiate their relevant experience by providing sufficient evidence "within a verifiable contractual document" adding that credit would be given only if the Government could validate the information through a signed, certified and/or legally recognized document. Specifically excluded from the list of supporting evidence were CPARS (contractor performance assessment reporting system) reports which were deemed insufficient to substantiate the scope, period of performance, and dollar value of offeror's claimed experiences. Offerors were also advised that there would be no opportunities to resubmit relevant experience documentation.

ABSG Consulting Inc. was one of 115 companies submitting proposals for this solicitation. ASBG's proposal included a copy of an "Order for Supplies and Services" that was unsigned by either ABSG or any government agency, along with a CPARS report to substantiate its claimed experience. GSA concluded that because the order was unsigned, it did not constitute sufficient evidence within a verifiable contractual document to substantiate ABSG's claimed experience. Further, since the solicitation specifically precluded reliance on CPARS reports, GSA eliminated ABSG's proposal from further consideration.

ABSG appealed, asserting that the unsigned contract document and CPARS report should have been considered sufficient to meet the solicitation requirements and further asserted that GSA was obligated to validate ABSG's claimed experience by contacting the contracting officer or conducting a search for the contract in Government databases. GSA basically called that position nonsense and refereed back to the explicit language of the solicitation.

The Comptroller General (CG) in hearing the appeal, sided with GSA. The CG found no basis to question the reasonableness of GSA's determination that ABSG's unsigned documentation and CPARS report were insufficient to meet the solicitation's experience requirements for substantiating prior experience. Since the solicitation expressly provided that an offeror's claimed experience must be substantiated by evidence "within a verifiable contractual document", the CG also rejected ABSG's argument that GSA should have gone out and performed its own validations.

Seems to us like ABSG's arguments were weak from the outset. You can read the full text of the CG's decision here.

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