Firestorm Wildland Fire Suppression, Inc.
B-310136: Nov 26, 2007
Firestorm Wildland Fire Suppression, Inc. protests the award of a contract to Ferguson Management Company South under request for proposals (RFP) No.?AG024B-S-07-0009, issued by the Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Forest Service, for wildland fire-fighting crews. Firestorm challenges the technical capability and past performance evaluations.
We deny the protest.
B-310136, Firestorm Wildland Fire Suppression, Inc., November 26, 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.
Evaluation of awardee's past performance was reasonable, notwithstanding protester's identification of alleged negative information concerning awardee, where agency did not have personal knowledge of some of the information, and fully considered information of which it was aware.
Firestorm Wildland Fire Suppression, Inc. protests the award of a contract to Ferguson Management Company South under request for proposals (RFP) No. AG024B-S-07-0009, issued by the Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Forest Service, for wildland fire-fighting crews. Firestorm challenges the technical capability and past performance evaluations.
The RFP, a small business set-aside, sought proposals for the services of 20-person fire-fighting crews at sites within specified distances of 6 national forests (10 contract line items (CLIN)). Proposals were to be evaluated on the basis of four factors--past performance, technical capabilities, training/safety, and price. Past performance was to be evaluated on the basis of quality of services, customer satisfaction, timeliness of performance, trends in performance, and business relationships. Under this factor, the evaluators could consider proposal information, various past performance databases, and their own personal experience and knowledge. The non-price factors were of approximately equal weight and, combined, were more important than price. Award was to be made to multiple offerors on a best value basis.
This protest concerns the award of CLIN 19b, for services within 100 miles of the
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The TEB recommended award to Firestorm, but the contracting officer determined that such an award was not justifiable in light of Firestorm's higher price, and thus recommended award to
PAST PERFORMANCE EVALUATION
Firestorm asserts that the agency unreasonably evaluated Ferguson's past performance as acceptable, even though the firm had experienced several noncompliance issues under prior contracts, and one of its fire crews had deployed fire shelters during the 2004 Tool Box fire, which the protester claims is an extraordinary event. Noting that its own proposal reflected no noncompliance issues, Firestorm asserts that its rating should have been higher than
The evaluation of proposals, including past performance, is a matter within the discretion of the contracting agency, which our Office will review only to ensure that the agency's judgment was reasonable and consistent with the solicitation criteria and applicable statutes and regulations. United Def. LP, B'286925.3 et al.,
The past performance evaluation was unobjectionable. As instructed by RFP sect. L.6(b), Ferguson's proposal listed all of the fire suppression incidents on which it had fire crews from 2002 through 2005; included copies of its evaluations; and listed noncompliance actions taken against the firm, along with explanations of how the actions were resolved and how it planned to mitigate them going forward.As part of its proposal,
The protester asserts that there is something wrong with a performance evaluation that does not mention such an extraordinary event as deployment of fire shelters, and that the agency should have delved further into the matter. Firestorm's Initial Comments at 9. In this regard, we have held that, in certain circumstances, evaluators cannot ignore information of which they are personally aware, even if that information is not included in the offeror's proposal. See
We reach the same conclusion as to an alleged fourth noncompliance incident in connection with the 2003 Cramer fire. In conjunction with an unrelated bid protest, a
Firestorm asserts that its past performance should have been rated higher because it included more letters of recommendation (seven) than
TECHNICAL CAPABILITY EVALUATION
Firestorm asserts that it was unreasonable for the TEB to evaluate
We will not sustain a protest unless the protester demonstrates a reasonable possibility that it was prejudiced by the agency's actions. McDonald'Bradley, B'270126,
SOURCE SELECTION DECISION
Firestorm asserts that the source selection decision is not supported by adequate documentation because there is no statement from the SSA explaining why he awarded the contract to
Firestorm's challenge is based primarily on its view that the evaluation of
The protest is denied.
Gary L. Kepplinger
 Firestorm initially challenged an award to Mountaineers Fire Crew, LLC but, after reviewing the agency report (AR), Firestorm withdrew that basis of protest.
 Two other offerors had higher rated proposals than
 Firestorm challenges the agency's award on numerous bases. We have considered them all and find that they have no merit or did not prejudice the protester. This decision addresses Firestorm's most significant arguments.
 While our decision refers to various aspects of
 Firestorm asserts that this letter of recommendation should not have been considered in the evaluation because it did not concern performance of responsibilities associated with fire suppression. The agency explains that the letter was considered relevant because its author recognized the crew's ability to adapt and perform well in an emergency situation, and thus reflected on the crew's character and the firm's ability to work with the government. TEB Statement para. 7. As noted above, past performance encompassed quality of services, customer satisfaction, timeliness of performance, trends in performance, and business relationships. RFP sect. M.5.1(1). The agency's consideration of the letter clearly fell within these elements, and therefore was unobjectionable.
 We note that, while Firestorm's proposal stated that no noncompliance actions had been taken against it, the firm acknowledged that it had terminated several of its employees who were not adhering to its company policies. Their termination reduced the size of the crew below the required level and resulted in the voluntary removal of the crew from a fire with the approval of the operations section chief. Firestorm Proposal, AR at 00220.
 In any event, there is no reason to believe that the TEB would have considered the deployment to represent negative past performance. In this regard, the report did not conclude that the shelter deployment was extraordinary, or that it resulted from anything the crew had done improperly. In fact, it stated that the crew was well'organized, equipped with appropriate protective equipment and clothing, and that the safety zone was adequate to prevent serious injuries. AR, Tab 22.
 In any event, again, there is no reason to conclude that the TEB would have found this information to have resulted in an unacceptable rating. In this regard, the agency notes that, since it is the incident commander's responsibility for [deleted], the crew's performance should not have been criticized based on [deleted], and that [deleted], the
 Firestorm also challenges any positive consideration of
 Our conclusion is not changed by Firestorm's reliance on the fact that the TEB had originally recommended its proposal for award. The SSA questioned that recommendation and had the contracting officer contact all members of the TEB to request additional, specific rationales to justify a Firestorm award. Supplemental Contracting Officer's Statement para. 3. When the TEB was unable to articulate any additional rationales for their recommendation, the SSA refused to follow the initial recommendation.