Monday, November 19, 2018
Bid Protest - Plain Reading of Solicitation Prevails
The GSA (General Services Administration) issued a solicitation to procure information technology services. GSA required that offerors submit proposals in seven volumes. and a "document Verification and Self Scoring Worksheet. In the scoring worksheet, offerors were required to claim points for meeting specific criteria in the solicitation and for every claimed point, offerors were required to include supporting documentation in the appropriate volume of the proposal. GSA also set forth specific substitution rules for points claimed by joint-ventures.
For example, for relevant experience, joint venture offerors were required to list relevant experience projects in the name of the joint venture or in the name of an individual member of the joint venture. For past performance, JVs were required to provide examples in the name of the joint venture or in the name of an individual member of the joint venture. For systems certification, JVs were required to provide evidence of the system certification, or clearance being in the name of the joint venture or in the name of every member of the joint venture. Note the difference. In the first two examples, JV offerors could provide evidence in the name of the joint venture or in the name of one member of the joint venture. But for the system certification criteria, JV offerors had to provide evidence in the name of the joint venture or each and every member of the joint venture.
Metrica Tem Venture (MTV), a joint venture, submitted a bid under the solicitation. But the contracting officer took away points because MTV did not provide evidence of system certification for the joint venture as a whole or for each of the joint venture partners. MTV appealed to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims arguing that it was entitled to those points because it proposed that one of its members, which possessed an acceptable Cost Accounting System (CAS) would perform all of MTV's accounting under the contract.
The Federal Claims court dismissed the appeal because based on the plain reading of the solicitation, there was only one reasonable interpretation and it was not MTV's interpretation. The Court ruled that offerors were entitled to points only for having a certified cost accounting system if the credential is possessed by the joint venture or each member of the joint venture. Because neither MTV nor each member of the joint venture possessed a certified cost accounting system, GSA was correct in deducting points for a certified cost accounting system.
The full Federal Claims court decision can be accessed here.