Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Similar Proposals - One Was Considered Weak - the Other Was Considered Strong

The Air Force issued a solicitation for someone to collect, analyze, synthesize and process scientific and technical information at its Homeland Defense and Security Information Analysis Center (essentially a publicly accessible website) . Information International Associates, Inc (IIA) was one of several unsuccessful bidders IIA challenged the award. IIA claimed that the Air Force unreasonably evaluated awardee's proposal as containing a strength where the added benefit identified by the Air Force was not consistent with the terms of the solicitation while evaluating IIA's proposal as containing a weakness when it was not materially different than the awardee's proposal. (Well, as they say, one company's strength is another company's weakness.)

The solicitation required a feedback mechanism where viewers provide feedback on the website's content. The winning bidder (Quanterion) proposed a system that automatically sends an email requesting feedback at each download and also tracks and consolidates the status of the responses. That was rated a strength by the Air Force. The problem was, as the GAO noted, IIA proposed essentially the same mechanism and that was rated a weakness.

The GAO found that the Air Force unequally applied its stated rationale for why Quanterion satisfied the RFP's feedback requirement while IIA's did not. Both proposals included systems to track view counts - one was rated a strength and the other a weakness.

The GAO concluded that the Air Force unreasonably assigned this weakness to IIA's proposal and recommended that the Air Force conduct and document a new evaluation. The GAO also recommended that the Air Force reimburse IIA for reasonable costs associated with filing and pursuing its protest, including attorney fees.

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