AlliedBarton Security Services LLC
B-299978,B-299978.3,B-299978.4: Oct 9, 2007
- Full Report:
AlliedBarton Security Services LLC protests the issuance of a task order to Knight Protective Services, Inc. pursuant to request for quotations (RFQ) No. HSFEHQ-07-Q-0053, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, for armed guard services for FEMA housing sites in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area. AlliedBarton argues that the agency's determination, pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq. (2000) (the Stafford Act), that it was not a firm residing or primarily doing business in the state of Louisiana, and therefore was ineligible for receipt of a task order under the RFQ, was unreasonable. The protester also claims that FEMA's Stafford Act determination regarding Knight was improper.
We deny the protest.
B-299978; B-299978.3; B-299978.4, AlliedBarton Security Services LLC, October 9, 2007
DOCUMENT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE
The decision issued on the date below was subject to a GAO Protective Order. This redacted version has been approved for public release.
1. Protest challenging agency's eligibility determination under the authority of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. sect. 5150, is denied where the agency reasonably concluded that the protester was not a firm residing or doing business primarily in the designated set-aside location.
2. Protester is not an interested party for purposes of challenging the successful vendor's eligibility for receipt of a task order where the record shows that, even if the protest were sustained on this ground, an intervening vendor would be next in line for selection.
AlliedBarton Security Services LLC protests the issuance of a task order to Knight Protective Services, Inc. pursuant to request for quotations (RFQ) No. HSFEHQ-07-Q-0053, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, for armed guard services for FEMA housing sites in the
The RFQ, issued on
Eight vendors, including AlliedBarton and Knight, submitted quotations by the May 17 closing date. The agency then conducted technical, price, and Stafford Act eligibility evaluations of vendors' quotations. The agency's final evaluation ratings of the quotations submitted by AlliedBarton and Knight were as follows:
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Agency Report (AR), Tab 9, Consensus Report, at 10-11; Tab 10, Consensus Technical Report, at 4-29. The agency subsequently determined that Knight's quotation, which was lowest-priced among the most highly technically-rated, eligible vendors, represented the best value to the agency.
AlliedBarton's protest raises numerous issues regarding the agency's evaluation of both its and Knight's quotations. Of foremost importance, AlliedBarton protests that FEMA improperly determined that, for purposes of the Stafford Act, it was not a business residing in the state of
AlliedBarton first protests that the agency improperly determined that it was not eligible for selection here under the Stafford Act. The protester argues that FEMA's determination that it was not a firm residing or doing business primarily in the State of
Pursuant to the authority of section 307 of the Stafford Act, 42 U.S.C. sect. 5150, amended by the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 109-295, sect. 694, 120 Stat. 1355 (2006), and the
Use of Local Firms and Individuals
(a) Contracts or Agreements With Private Entities-(1) In General -- In the expenditure of Federal funds for debris clearance, distribution of supplies, reconstruction, and other major disaster or emergency assistance activities which may be carried out by contract or agreement with private organizations, firms, or individuals, preferences shall be given, to the extent feasible and practicable, to those organizations, firms, and individuals residing or doing business primarily in the area affected by such major disaster or emergency.* * * * *(3) Specific Geographic Area -- In carrying out this section, a contract or agreement may be set aside for award based on a specific geographic area.
42 U.S.C. sect. 5150.
Accordingly, the RFQ here was limited to firms residing or primarily doing business in
AlliedBarton's quotation included the required volume addressing its Stafford Act eligibility. The protester's quotation set forth in detail its ties to
The agency subsequently determined that AlliedBarton was neither residing nor primarily doing business in
I balanced the factors in Federal Acquisition Regulation 52.226-3 to determine whether the company resides in or primarily does business in
. Favoring a decision that the company resides in or primarily does business in Louisiana is the fact that it has been working in Louisiana for 20 years and has had a Louisiana office since November 2002, before Hurricane Katrina struck. On the other hand, its teaming agreement with a local company did not provide sufficient assurance that the local company would provide 50% of the cost of the guard workforce. Furthermore, AlliedBarton indicated that its local office employs 200 individuals, but it did not state anywhere that the individuals employed at the local office are themselves local. Finally, AlliedBarton's 2006 Louisiana gross revenues account for only about one percent of its total gross revenues. Louisiana
AlliedBarton does not dispute the contracting officer's finding that only one percent of its total gross revenues comes from
Where, as here, an agency issues an RFQ to FSS contractors under FAR Subpart 8.4 and conducts a competition (see FAR sect. 8.405-2), we will review the record to ensure that the agency's evaluation is reasonable and consistent with the terms of the solicitation. See GC Servs. Ltd. P'ship, B-298102, B-298102.3,
In reviewing an agency's evaluation, we do not limit our review to contemporaneous evidence, but consider all the information provided, including the parties' arguments, explanations, and any hearing testimony. Remington Arms Co., Inc., B-297374, B-297374.2,
Further, as explained in detail below, our review of the record indicates that FEMA's evaluation of AlliedBarton's quotation and resulting determination that the vendor was not a firm residing (or doing business primarily) in Louisiana for purposes of the Stafford Act was reasonable and consistent with the stated evaluation criteria. The record reflects that the contracting officer properly considered the information which AlliedBarton submitted as well as other relevant information. Although we do not specifically address all of the protester's arguments about the evaluation of its quotation, we have fully considered all of them and find that they afford no basis to question the agency's Stafford Act eligibility determination.
As a preliminary matter, we note that both the relevant FAR clause and the additional solicitation guidance provided to vendors regarding what constitutes residing or primarily doing business in
We find that FEMA's determination regarding AlliedBarton's Stafford Act eligibility was a reasonable one. As set forth above, the contracting officer properly considered where the vendor was incorporated, where it had its corporate headquarters, and the location of the company's government business primary point of contact, all of which were outside
AlliedBarton also asserts that the agency's Stafford Act determination was improper because the agency believed that a business concern could not reside in numerous places simultaneously. The protester essentially argues that the contracting officer focused too heavily, if not exclusively, on AlliedBarton's state of incorporation. While the protester does not dispute that it is incorporated in
AlliedBarton also argues that FEMA's Stafford Act eligibility determinations regarding itself and Knight reflect unequal treatment. The protester offers a side-by-side comparison of the Stafford Act evidence regarding itself and Knight under each of the FAR clause 52.226-3 criteria to support its assertion that the agency's treatment of vendors was unequal. AlliedBarton argues that, under many of the factors, the evidence it submitted to demonstrate its Stafford Act eligibility was superior to the evidence regarding Knight's eligibility. Comments,
In our view, AlliedBarton's argument here is mistakenly premised upon an improper apples and oranges comparison of the vendors' quotations. When performing its Stafford Act evaluation of Knight, the agency determined that the awardee was eligible based on the doing business primarily prong. AR,
AlliedBarton also argues that there is no documentation in the record establishing that the agency considered much of its Stafford Act evidence, including its list of customers in various Louisiana cities, its local offices, the fact that AlliedBarton had been licensed in Louisiana since 1983, the firm's relationships with local vendors and subcontractors, and other information submitted by AlliedBarton which, the firm asserts, establishes that AlliedBarton resides in Louisiana. AlliedBarton argues that even the contracting officer's post-protest statement fails to indicate that FEMA considered all the evidence presented by AlliedBarton on this matter. AlliedBarton argues that, in light of the agency's alleged failure to consider all relevant information, the conclusion that the firm did not reside in
The record does not support AlliedBarton's assertion that FEMA ignored specific evidence submitted by the vendor and favoring a determination that the firm was residing in
Other Protest Issues
AlliedBarton also protests that the agency improperly permitted Knight to submit additional evidence after the deadline for submission of quotations to establish that it was Stafford Act eligible. Specifically, the protester refers to a June 26 email showing that FEMA asked Knight to provide the agency with a list of locations in
After making its award determination on June 19, the contracting officer decided to reassign guard sites in the New Orleans-area to the Baton Rouge-area contractor, Knight. As part of this action, the contracting officer requested that Knight provide FEMA with a list of parishes in
Lastly, AlliedBarton protests that the agency improperly determined that Knight qualified as a firm residing or doing business primarily in
The protest is denied.
Gary L. Kepplinger
 The agency determined that, in addition to Knight, five other vendors had also submitted technically acceptable quotations and were Stafford Act eligible. AR, Tab 9, Consensus Report, at 11.
 After development of the record in these protests, the GAO attorney conducted an outcome prediction alternative dispute resolution (ADR) conference (for a description of GAO's outcome prediction ADR process, see Alaska Structures, Inc.--Costs, B-298575.4, Jan. 22, 2007, 2007 CPD para. 15 at 4 n.4). He advised the parties that AlliedBarton's protest appeared to be without merit insofar as the record showed that FEMA's evaluation of the protester's Stafford Act eligibility was reasonable and consistent with the stated evaluation criteria, the record did not establish that the agency had engaged in improper discussions with Knight, and that AlliedBarton was not an interested party to pursue its remaining basis of protest. The protester subsequently informed our Office that it did not intend to withdraw its protest based on this ADR session, but would rather have a written decision on the merits of its case.
 For a description of the process by which the federal government provides federal assistance generally under the Stafford Act, see AshBritt Inc., B-297889, B-297889.2,
 The RFQ's guidance on what constitutes a firm residing or primarily doing business in the state of Louisiana consisted of a non-exclusive list of factors to be considered by the agency that essentially restated the criteria set forth in FAR clause 52.226-3. For example, the list included location of the firm's permanent office, existing state licenses, and record of past work in the designated area.
 AlliedBarton's quotation represented that the firm, among other things, had both permanent primary and satellite offices located in Louisiana, held a Louisiana state security license and was originally licensed in Louisiana in 1983, had continued to provide security services in Louisiana since 1983, had 200 permanent employees who worked in and mostly resided in Louisiana, had relationships with various vendors supporting its business, and was a member of various organization with local chapters in Louisiana. AR, Tab 6, AlliedBarton's Quotation, vol. III, Stafford Act Evidence, at 2-5.
 While we think it is unobjectionable here to consider the post-protest documentation offered by the agency to fill in the previously unrecorded details, the better practice clearly would have been to memorialize the details contemporaneously rather than after a protest was filed.
 The protester does not dispute the validity of the information on which the contracting officer relied here supporting the determination that the firm was not residing in the state of
 Although FAR Part 15 procedures do not directly apply to FSS buys, our Office looks to Part 15 as guidance when, as here, an agency treats vendor responses as if it were conducting a negotiated procurement. See TDS, Inc., B-292674,
 The agency subsequently decided not to reassign security guard services between the
 Moreover, FEMA's Stafford Act eligibility determination of Knight was based on whether the firm was doing business primarily in