Bevilacqua Research Corporation

B-293051: Jan 12, 2004

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Bevilacqua Research Corporation (BRC) protests the award of a contract to Future Research Corporation (FRC) under request for proposals (RFP) No. DACA8703-R-0008, issued by the Army Corps of Engineers for implementation of its next generation project management information system, known as the "P2 system." BRC, which submitted a significantly lower priced proposal, protests the evaluation of its proposal and the agency's decision to award to FRC, an offeror submitting a higher technically rated, higher priced proposal.

We deny the protest.

B-293051, Bevilacqua Research Corporation, January 12, 2004



Decision


Matter of: Bevilacqua Research Corporation

File: B-293051

Date: January 12, 2004

Andy Bevilacqua for the protester.
Jesse W. Nunn for Future Research Corporation, an intervenor.
Steven W. Feldman, Esq., Department of the Army, for the agency.
Linda S. Lebowitz, Esq., and Michael R. Golden, Esq., Office of the General Counsel, GAO, participated in the preparation of the decision.

DIGEST

Protest is denied where the agencys evaluation of the protesters proposal was reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation, and where the solicitation provided that the technical evaluation factors were significantly more important than price, the agency reasonably selected for award a firm submitting a higher technically rated, higher priced proposal.

DECISION

Bevilacqua Research Corporation (BRC) protests the award of a contract to Future Research Corporation (FRC) under request for proposals (RFP) No. DACA87'03-R-0008, issued by the Army Corps of Engineers for implementation of its next generation project management information system, known as the P2 system. BRC, which submitted a significantly lower priced proposal, protests the evaluation of its proposal and the agencys decision to award to FRC, an offeror submitting a higher technically rated, higher priced proposal.

We deny the protest

BACKGROUND

The RFP, issued on March 14, 2003, described the P2 system as a group of commercial, off-the-shelf software application products (specifically, Oracle applications and Primavera P3e and Primavision applications) that will be modified as necessary to accommodate the Corpss newly standardized business process and to interface with the Corpss financial management and other legacy systems; the P2 system will be the Corpss sole project management business process automated information system and will support 20,000 users in the agencys core mission areas (i.e., military programs, civil works, and environmental projects). Under the terms of the RFP, the contract will be performed at the Corpss Huntsville Engineering and Support Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

The RFP contemplated the award of an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (fixed-price and time-and-materials) for the base period and four 1-year option periods.[2] As relevant here, at the end of the pricing schedule and in clause 4.0, captioned Minimum Ordering Obligation, the RFP included the estimated monetary value for each period of contract performance and the total estimated contract value, i.e., the government estimate, which was $11,258,750. (In the administrative report, the agency explains that the government estimate was calculated in large part using the most current (2001) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) national occupational employment and wage estimates for labor categories that basically corresponded to the labor categories in the RFP. The BLS estimates reflected non-loaded, hourly rates paid to employees, to which the agency added amounts corresponding to general and administrative expenses, overhead, and fringe benefits; the agency also added a 3-percent inflation factor to the BLS estimates for each year past 2001. Contracting Officers Statement, Nov. 7, 2003, at 21-22.) The RFP also included labor category descriptions that listed desired education/general experience qualifications for the particular labor category position. For example, the RFPs labor category description for the program manager position stated as follows:

Desired Education/General Experience: Should have a Bachelors degree in Computer Science, Engineering, Business or related field. Should have a minimum of 12 years in software/system development/implementation or software/system maintenance.
Functional Responsibility: Provides day-to-day management of overall contract support operations, possibly involving multiple projects and groups of personnel at multiple locations. Organizes, directs and coordinates planning and production of all contract support activities. Demonstrates writing and oral communications skills. Establishes and alters (as necessary) corporate management structure to direct effective contract support activities. Negotiates and makes binding decisions for the company.
RFP C, Labor Category Descriptions.
The RFP provided that the award would be made to the offeror whose proposal was determined to represent the best value to the government, considering technical evaluation factors and price. The RFP stated that the technical evaluation factors were significantly more important than price. The technical evaluation factors, in order of importance, were as follows: (1) past performance--most important; (2) personnel--somewhat less important than past performance, but significantly more important than project management or quality management; (3) project management--equal to quality management; and (4) quality management--equal to project management.[3]

As relevant here, for past performance, the RFP required offerors to identify up to five contracts performed within the past 3 years for work similar to the current procurement. The RFP stated that in evaluating an offerors past performance, the agency would focus on information demonstrating the quality of an offerors performance relative to the size and complexity of the current procurement. Among other things, the RFP required offerors to provide the awarded cost/price for each contract identified. The RFP advised that if an offeror lacked relevant past performance, the offeror would not be evaluated favorably or unfavorably, i.e., a neutral past performance rating would be assigned. RFP L, 2.1, Tab A--Past Performance. For personnel, the RFP stated that individuals proposed for particular labor category positions should meet the qualifications (i.e., desired education/general experience) as set forth in the RFPs section C labor category descriptions. RFP L, 2.1, Tab B--Personnel.

With respect to price, the RFP stated that the agency would evaluate an offerors proposed price for reasonableness and realism. The RFP explained that a price realism review would be performed to determine if an offerors proposed price was realistic for the work to be performed; if the offerors proposal reflected a clear understanding by the firm of the RFP requirements; and if the offerors proposal was priced consistent with the various elements of the firms technical proposal. The RFP also included the clause at FAR 52.222-46, which explained that the agency would evaluate an offerors professional employee compensation plan (salaries and fringe benefits) to ensure that it reflected a sound management approach and an understanding of the RFP requirements, including an assessment of the offerors ability to provide uninterrupted, high-quality work and the plans effect in terms of the offerors ability to recruit and retain qualified personnel. The RFP emphasized that the agency was concerned with the quality and stability of the work force to be employed under the contract; accordingly, the RFP advised that professional compensation that was unrealistically low could be viewed as impairing the offerors ability to attract and retain competent professional service employees and as evidencing the offerors failure to comprehend the complexity of the requirements.

Finally, the RFP stated that the agency intended to award the contract without conducting discussions. In this regard, the RFP instructed that an offerors initial proposal should contain the firms best terms from a technical and price standpoint and that statements merely repeating, paraphrasing, or promising general performance would not be considered sufficient evidence of the offerors ability to meet the RFP requirements.

Twenty-eight firms, including BRC and FRC, submitted technical and price proposals by the amended closing date of April 29. (BRC, FRC, and two other firms were based in Huntsville.) As relevant here, the final consensus ratings assigned to the proposals of BRC and FRC were as follows:



BRC

FRC

Past Performance





























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