Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What's the Big Deal With Two Extra Pages Beyond a Stated Page Limitation?

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) issued a solicitation for help in preparing various survivability assessments. Award was to be made on a best-value basis considering mission capability, past performance, and cost. The mission capability factor included two sub-factors; management approach and technical approach. Six firms submitted bids. DTRA awarded the contract to Centra. Two of the losing bidders, PAE and Ensco appealed challenging DTRA's evaluations of their own and Centra's proposals. The focus of this article is on DTRA's assessment of Centra's (the winning bidder) proposal.

The protesters argued that DTRA improperly relaxes the solicitation requirements by accepting two resumes submitted by Centra that exceeded the two page limit specified in the RFP (Request for Proposal).

The RFP required offerors to provide a maximum two-page resume for each of the 39 personnel, or in lieu of resumes, to submit the information in the form of a table, with the same page limits being applied. The RFP further instructed offerors that page limitations shall be treated as maximums. If exceeded, the excess pages will not be read or considered in the evaluation of the proposal.

Two of the resumes submitted by Centra exceeded the RFP's two-page limit. Both were four pages in length. Thus, on their face, the excess information of the resumes (everything beyond two pages) should not have been considered.

DTRA took the position that the two resumes were withing the page limits because if the information is extracted, and the minimum allowable formatting set forth in the RFP is applied, the text would fit within the page requirements. GAO noted however that DTRA did not cite any authority to support its argument, no could it find any, that would permit evaluators to extract and manipulate the text of an offeror's proposal in order to satisfy the pagination requirements set forth in the solicitation.

As such, GAO concluded that DTRA erred in considering those portions of Centra's proposal that exceeded the RFP's stated page limitations and recommended that DTRA re-evaluate the proposals accordingly. GAO also recommended that DTRA reimburse the protesters for their costs of filing and pursuing their protests.

You can read the entire GAO decision here.

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