Sevatec, Inc.

B-405681: Dec 9, 2011

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Sevatec, Inc., of Falls Church, Virginia, a small business, protests the issuance of a Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) blanket purchase agreement (BPA) to Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. (BAH), of McLean, Virginia, by the Department of Labor (DoL) under request for quotations (RFQ) No. DOL111RQ21285 for information technology support services. Sevatec argues that its quotation was misevaluated under the key personnel factor of the RFQ, and was unreasonably rejected as unacceptable.

We deny the protest.

B-405681, Sevatec, Inc., Dec 9, 2011

Decision

Matter of: Sevatec, Inc.

File: B-405681

Date: December 9, 2011

SonnyKakar and Angela D. Leno, Sevatec, Inc., for the protester.
RandL. Allen, Esq., Kara M. Sacilotto, Esq., Brian G. Walsh, Esq., and Tracye WinfreyHoward, Esq., Wiley Rein LLP, for Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., an intervenor.
HermanJ. Narcho, Esq., Department of Labor, for the agency.
Paul N. Wengert,Esq., and Sharon L. Larkin, Esq., Office of the General Counsel, GAO,participated in the preparation of the decision.

DIGEST

Protest that agency misevaluated protester's quotation incompetition for Federal Supply Schedule blanket purchase agreement is deniedwhere resumes in protester's quotation showed that the candidates lacked the qualificationsspecified in the solicitation for their respective positions, and thus theevaluation of the protester's quotation as unacceptable was reasonable,supported by the record, and consistent with the solicitation.

DECISION

Sevatec, Inc., of Falls Church,Virginia, a small business, protests the issuance of a Federal Supply Schedule(FSS) blanket purchase agreement (BPA) to Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. (BAH), ofMcLean, Virginia, by the Department of Labor (DoL) under request for quotations (RFQ)No. DOL111RQ21285 for information technology support services. Sevatec argues that its quotation wasmisevaluated under the key personnel factor of the RFQ, and was unreasonably rejectedas unacceptable.

We deny the protest.[1]

BACKGROUND

The DoL issued the RFQ on June28, 2011, seeking quotations from firms holding FSS contracts to provide programand technical support for the GovBenefits.gov program. RFQ at 1. The RFQ anticipated the issuance of a single BPA to the successful FSScontractor, which would allow the DoL to issue time-and-materials, labor-hour,or fixed-price task orders for requirements within the scope of the BPA. Id. at 8. The duration of the BPA was to be for oneyear with four 1-year options. Id.at 3-5.

A statement of work (SOW) accompaniedthe RFQ and outlined the scope of required services under eight taskgroups: program, project and management;planning, tracking, and control; customer relationship management; web site andinfrastructure development and operation; measurement and metrics; changemanagement; business process reengineering; and other program support. SOW at 2. The "other program support" group consistedof administrative support for procurements (principally market research andpreparation of procurement documentation), independent validation and verification(principally providing quality control and compliance for the vendor's deliverables),information technology (IT) security assurance (principally locating certifiedIT security experts to perform and manage security compliance activities), and languagetranslation services. Id.at 15.

The SOW also set forth requirementsfor seven key personnel to be supplied by the vendor: program manager, project manager/team lead,senior technical analyst/specialist, technical analyst/specialist, seniorbusiness analyst/specialist, business analyst/specialist, and administrativespecialist. Id. at 21-25. For the program manager, for example, the SOWlisted both general experience requirements and individualqualifications, which included the following:

  • At least 15 years' experience managing verycomplex and/or high risk programs or series of programs and providinginternal/external IT support services to management and technical staff.
  • At least 10 years' experience with programmanagement processes and tools supporting tasks under this contract.

Id. at 21.

In similar fashion, for theProject Manager/Team Lead key position, the SOW specified individual qualifications,which included the following:

  • Excellent strategic thinking and superiorwritten and presentation skills and distinctive problem-solving abilities andsolving skills to provide support for the centralized EA [enterprisearchitecture] repository[2]and strategic road mapping processes.
  • Ability to decompose business programs into anactionable set of activities, to include business process modeling, simulation,and validating the business premise.
  • Ability to model the customer's business usingan excellent understanding of enterprise architectural main issues andpriorities according to customer key drivers in the areas of Business, Systemsand/or Infrastructural design. Abilityto listen actively, critically analyze and penetrate to the real issues in allthese areas.

Id. at 22.

The RFQ instructed interestedvendors to arrange their quotations in four volumes: technical approach, past performance,socioeconomic status, and price. RFQ at 13-15. The technical approach volume was to bedivided into four subfactors: understanding of the requirement, key personnel, corporate experience,and evaluation survey. Id.at 14. Under the key personnelsubfactor, the RFQ directed vendors to show the experience and qualificationsof all key personnel, include resumes for the key personnel, and provide amatrix relating the background/experience of the proposed personnel to the correspondingSOW tasking for the proposed labor category and level. Id. at 14.

The RFQ provided that the DoLwould evaluate quotations on a best-value basis considering technical, pastperformance, socioeconomic status, and evaluated price.[3] Id. at 16-17. Under the technical factor, the RFQ providedthat the four subfactors (understanding of the requirement, key personnel,corporate experience, and evaluation survey) would be assigned adjectivalratings of outstanding, good, acceptable, and unacceptable. Any quotation found to have a major error,omission, or deficiency would be rated unacceptable. Id. at 18. Furthermore, any quotation that was not ratedat least "acceptable" under the technical factor, and under each of its subfactors,would not be eligible for award. Id.at 15.

The DoLreceived quotations from three FSS contractors: BAH (the incumbent firm), Sevatec, and anothersmall business.

Sevatec's quotation responded toeach of the four technical subfactors, provided past performance information,identified the firm as a small business under the socioeconomic status factor,and provided labor rates for the price evaluation. In particular, under the key personnelsubfactor of the technical factor, Sevatec described the qualifications of thepersonnel selected for its key positions, provided resumes, and asserted thateach candidate met each of the applicable qualifications specified in the SOW.

The DoL evaluated Sevatec'squotation and rated it unacceptable under the technical factor. In support of this unacceptable rating, theDoL evaluators determined Sevatec's quotation to be unacceptable under the keypersonnel subfactor, based on five weaknesses and nine deficiencies. [4] Most of the identified deficiencies wereapplicable to Sevatec's candidates for program manager, and projectmanager/team lead, such as the following:

  • The proposed Program Manager resume does notdemonstrate experience in Program Management (as distinct from ProjectManagement).
  • The proposed Program Manager's ProjectManagement experience is from 3/09 to date and does not amount to 16 years asthe contractor's matrix (Pg 14) claims.
  • The proposed Program Manager does not show"at least 15 years' experience managing very complex programs or series ofprograms" as the solicitation requires.
  • The proposed Program Manager resume does notshow "at least 10 years' experience with program managementprocesses", as the solicitation requires.
  • Proposed Project Manager/Team Lead:
  • Proposed Project Manager/Team Lead:

    Agency Report (AR), Tab 16, FinalEvaluation Report Part II, at 24-25.

    Although Sevatec's quotation wasrated unacceptable under the key personnel subfactor, BAH's quotation was ratedoutstanding under all technical subfactors, as follows:

    Understanding of Requirement

    Key
    Personnel

    Corporate Experience

    Evaluation Survey

    BAH

    Outstanding

    Outstanding

    Outstanding

    Outstanding

    Sevatec

    Acceptable

    Unacceptable

    Acceptable

    Acceptable

    AR, Tab 15, Final EvaluationReport Part I, at 2.[6]

    Sevatec based its pricing on thefirm's general-purpose information technology (Schedule 70) FSS contract. BAH based its pricing on that firm's Schedule70 and MOBIS (mission oriented business integrated services) FSScontracts. AR, Tab 14, Source SelectionDecision, at 29-30. The overallevaluation results were as follows:

    Technical

    Past Performance

    Evaluated Price

    BAH

    Outstanding

    Low Risk

    $14.7 million

    Sevatec

    Unacceptable

    Low Risk

    $10.0 million

    AR, Tab 14,Source Selection Decision, at 3.

    Since only BAH submitted an acceptablequotation, on August 24, 2011, the DoL issued a BPA to that firm. Id. On August 29, Sevatec received notice of the BPA's issuance and, on September1, the DoL provided a written debriefing. Protest, attachs. 1-2, Award Notice and Debriefing. On September 6, Sevatec filed thisprotest.

    DISCUSSION

    Sevatec challenges theevaluation of its quotation under all technical subfactors, and especially keypersonnel. Sevatec also argues that theDoL failed to consider the socioeconomic status factor and failed to properlyconsider Sevatec's lower evaluated price.

    In a competitive FSSprocurement, it is the vendor's burden to submit a quotation that is adequatelywritten and establishes the merits of the quotation. CMI Mgmt., Inc., B-404645, Mar. 2,2011, 2011 CPD ¶ 66 at 5. Thisprinciple is no less important where a solicitation requires the submission ofresumes that demonstrate ability or experience of key personnel. E.g., Critical Incident Solutions,LLC, B-298077, May 30, 2006, 2006 CPD ¶ 88 at 4 (protestthat agency misevaluated protester's personnel resume as unacceptable is deniedwhere evaluators reasonably found that resume did not clearly show that theprotester's candidate had the skills required in the solicitation). Where a vendor challenges the agency'sevaluation of the quotations, we will review the record to ensure that theagency's evaluation is reasonable and consistent with the terms of thesolicitation. Neopost USA Inc.,B-404195, B-404195.2, Jan. 19, 2011, 2011 CPD ¶ 35 at 4; AlliedBartonSec. Servs. LLC, B-299978 et al., Oct. 9, 2007, 2007CPD ¶ 186 at 6. A protester's meredisagreement with the agency's judgment does not establish that the evaluationwas unreasonable. Belzon, Inc.,B-404416 et al., Feb. 9, 2011, 2011 CPD ¶ 40 at 6.

    As explained below, we find thatthe evaluation of Sevatec's quotation was reasonable in all materialrespects. We consider first Sevatec'schallenges to the ratings under the technical factor, and in particular, thequalifications of two of the firm's candidates under the key personnelsubfactor. Based on our review of therecord, we agree that the evaluation of the key personnel subfactor of thetechnical factor was reasonable, and that the DoL properly rated Sevatecunacceptable under that subfactor. Onthat basis, we conclude that the DoL reasonably rated Sevatec unacceptableunder the technical factor. SinceSevatec was reasonably rated technically unacceptable, we conclude that the DoLproperly found Sevatec's quotation unacceptable overall, and thus the DoL wasnot required to consider the quotation further.[7] Although Sevatec raises numerous challengesto the evaluation, we discuss only several representative examples of theprotested issues below.

    Key Personnel Subfactor Evaluationof Sevatec Program Manager Candidate

    Sevatec argues that the DoLunreasonably assigned deficiencies against its quotation under the keypersonnel subfactor of the technical factor based on the qualifications of itscandidate for program manager. We discusstwo examples (relating to four deficiencies), to illustrate how the evaluationof Sevatec's program manager candidate reasonably reflected shortcomings in thecandidate's qualifications, and was consistent with the evaluation criteriastated in the RFQ.

    First, as noted above, thequalifications for the program manager candidate included that the candidatehave "at least 10 years' experience with program management processes and toolssupporting tasks under this contract." SOW at 21. The DoL concluded thatSevatec's candidate's resume did not demonstrate "experience in programmanagement (as distinct from project management)" and did not show "at least10 years experience with program management processes." AR, Tab 16, Final Evaluation Report Part II,at 24. Sevatec argues that DoL'sconclusions were unreasonable because the candidate's resume mentions his havingresponsibility for providing "program deliverables,"[8]and states that the candidate had supported both software development lifecyclerequirements, and capital planning and investment control requirements. Protest at 14. Additionally, Sevatec asserts that thecandidate provided program management support at the DoL Office of InformationSystems and Technology, and program level support "for several assignmentsduring his career." Id.

    Our review of the record,however, supports the reasonableness of the DoL's conclusions. Contrary to Sevatec's arguments, our reviewconfirms that the program manager candidate's resume showed only experiencewith project management, rather than program management, and therefore failedto meet the qualifications specified in the SOW. Sevatec's quotation stated generally that thecandidate's relevant experience consisted of performance as a "project managerand technical lead" for 12 years on government information technology efforts. AR, Tab 7, Sevatec Technical Quotation, at15. The resume specifically identified thecandidate's positions as "project manager" or "technical project manager," and theduties are generally described as involving the management of teams, notprograms. Id. at 16-18. Even recently, the candidate's role (frommid-2010 to mid-2011) was described in the resume "[a]s the project manager for[a particular] project for two . . . mission critical programs . . .[where the candidate] is responsible all project management activities . .." Id. at 16.

    By its own terms, the resume relatesthe candidate's experience to project management, not program management.[9] Thus, notwithstanding Sevatec's argumentsthat its candidate had a role in providing "program deliverables" andunidentified program-level support, Sevatec's quotation did not identify any experienceas a program manager, or show that the candidate used program managementprocesses or tools. Simply put, Sevatec hasnot shown that the resume demonstrated program management experience. As such, we agree with the agency's assessmentthat the quotation did not show that the program manager candidate had programmanagement experience (as compared to project management experience), and moregenerally, did not show at least 10 years experience in "program managementprocesses and tools supporting tasks under this contract." See SOW at 21.

    Sevatec also challenges theassessment of two additional deficiencies because the proposed program managerlacked the claimed 16 years of project management experience, and because the resumedoes not establish at least 15 years of providing leadership of complex andhigh risk programs, and providing support to management and technical staff. See AR, Tab 16, Final EvaluationReport Part II, at 24.

    Asnoted above, the SOW required the program manager candidate to possess at least15 years of experience managing very complex and/or high risk programs orseries of programs, and providing internal/external IT support services tomanagement and technical staff. SOW at21. In response, Sevatec's quotationdescribed its candidate as "a technical project manager with more than 16 yearsof experience managing complex and critical IT [information technology]projects on behalf of government clients." AR, Tab 7, Sevatec Technical Quotation, at 15. Sevatec argues that its claim was validatedby a statement in the candidate's resume that, in one of the candidate's threepositions (listed together for the period from 1994 to 2005), the candidate heldthe title of "technical analyst lead" and

    supervised and mentoredsmall-to-medium size teams consisting of consultants and employees. [The candidate] managed system interfaces forthe implementation of a[] . . . commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) package. He reported project status to seniormanagement.

    Id. at 19. Once again, Sevatec maintains that itsprotest thus fully refuted the agency's evaluation. Protest at 13-14; Protester's Commentsat 2.

    Based on our review of the quotations,we conclude that these deficiencies were reasonably assessed. Sevatec's nonspecific description of itsprogram manager candidate's experience as being "more than 16 years ofexperience managing complex and critical IT projects on behalf of governmentclients" lacks support and is undermined by the accompanying resume. In particular, Sevatec's reference to thecandidate supervising and mentoring teams as a "technical analyst lead" (andtwo other lesser positions) from 1994 to 2005 does not support the claim thatthe candidate held project management responsibilities during this period. Neither does the description of the candidate'srole of "managing system interfaces" for the implementation of a COTS packageshow that the candidate's responsibilities--as recently as 2005--involved managingcomplex, high-risk, or critical projects.

    Additionally, the candidate'smore recent experience during 2008 is described as being a consultant who reportedproject status to senior project management. In 2009, the candidate served as a "senior IT consultant" who "consulted[at two quasi-governmental firms] in the areas of Project Management." Id. at 18. Thus, we conclude that even the candidate's morerecent positions do not show the candidate having a role or responsibilities asa project manager in high-risk or complex projects. As a result, we agree with the assignment ofdeficiencies to the program manager candidate for lacking the 16-year projectmanagement experience claimed in the quotation, and lacking the required 15years of leadership of complex and high risk programs, and providing support tomanagement and technical staff.

    KeyPersonnel Subfactor Evaluation of Sevatec Project Manager/Team Lead Candidate

    Sevatec also challenges the deficiencies assigned to its candidate forthe project manager/team lead position for not meeting requiredqualifications. Sevatec argues that itscandidate's experience, as shown by the resume included in the quotation, is "highlyrelevant" to the requirements included in the solicitation, and that theassessed deficiencies are unsubstantiated. Protest at 15.

    In this regard, among the requirementsin the SOW for the project manager/team lead candidate was for the candidate tohave "[e]xcellent strategic thinking and superior written and presentationskills and distinctive problem-solving abilities and solving skills to providesupport for the centralized EA [enterprise architecture] repository andstrategic road mapping processes," and the "[a]bility to model the customer'sbusiness using an excellent understanding of enterprise architectural mainissues and priorities according to customer key drivers . . ." SOW at 22.

    Our review of Sevatec's quotationconfirms that the deficiencies assigned to the project manager/team leadcandidate for lacking these two qualifications were reasonable. In responding to the requirement to show thecandidate's strategic thinking and written and presentation skills relating tosupporting the enterprise architecture, Sevatec's quotation stated simply thatthe candidate had "more than 13 yearsin the information technology industry, specializing in the delivery of . . . softwareapplications that meet the strategic objectives of clients." AR, Tab 7, Sevatec Technical Quotation,at 21. In response to therequirement for the ability to model a business using an excellentunderstanding of enterprise architecture, the quotation merely stated that thecandidate utilized a list of software tools. Id. As the agencyreasonably concluded, neither of these responses adequately addressed the correspondingrequirement.

    Sevatec argues that relevant experience with the enterprisearchitecture requirements was demonstrated in the candidate's resume. We disagree. Although the resume mentions enterprise architecture generally, the narrativedescribing the candidate's various positions makes only brief, non-descriptivementions of the subject. For example, thecandidate's current position as director of information technology is describedas having responsibility for multiple functions, among which was "enterprisearchitecture support" and "creat[ing] designs and architectures" to meetrequirements and expectations. Id.at 22. These briefreferences do not demonstrate therequired understanding of enterprise architectural issues and prioritiesthat the SOW required in the qualificationsfor the project manager/team leader key personnel position. Accordingly, we find that the projectmanager/team leader candidate's resume was properly assessed as deficient.

    In conclusion, our review of the record leads us to conclude that theDoL performed a reasonable evaluation of Sevatec's key personnel, properlydetermined that the candidates did not meet the qualifications set forth in theRFQ, and appropriately assessed multiple deficiencies to the quotation. As noted above, the RFQ provided that aquotation found to have any deficiency was unacceptable, and thus would not beconsidered for award. RFQ at 15,18. Since Sevatec's quotation was reasonablyrated unacceptable, the quotation was properly rejected.

    Theprotest is denied.

    Lynn H. Gibson
    General Counsel



    Sevatec was not represented by counsel who could seek access to nonpublicinformation under a protective order. Accordingly, our discussion is necessarily general in some respects toavoid disclosure of nonpublic proprietary information.

    Inan appendix, the RFQ provided Internet links to supporting documentation,including a link to the DoL's enterprise architecture documentation.

    Indetermining best value, the RFQ provided that technical, past performance, andsocioeconomic status factors were of equal importance and, when combined, weresignificantly more important than price. RFQ at 15.

    Sevatec's quotation was rated acceptable under the other three technicalsubfactors: understanding of therequirement, corporate experience, and evaluation survey.

    Inresponse to an inquiry from our Office requesting clarification, the partiesagreed that program management and project management represent distinct(albeit related) roles. The partiesagreed that a 1-page comparison of those roles presented by the ProjectManagement Institute was an accurate depiction of the differences.

    The third vendor's quotation was evaluated as unacceptable overall and was notconsidered for award; thus, we do discuss this vendor's quotation or itsevaluation.

    Accordingly, we will not consider Sevatec's other challenges to each of theother weaknesses and deficiencies assessed to its quotation in the technicalevaluation, to the DoL's failure to consider Sevatec's small business statusunder the socioeconomic status factor, or to the selection of BAH at a higherevaluated price than Sevatec.

    Sevatec argues that the resume stated that providing program deliverables wasone of the candidate's responsibilities--apparently referring to a positionperformed for approximately 9 months during 2009 to 2010, where the resumestates that the candidate "reviewed and updated Systems Development Lifecycle(SDLC)/SLM [System Lifecycle Management] documents for program deliverables."

    Furthermore, the Project Management Institute description of programmanagement, as quoted above, describes the role of a program manager asinvolving "managing program staff and project managers, providing vision andoverall leadership," and "monitoring the progress of program components toensure the overall goals, schedule, budget, and benefits of the program will bemet." Project Management Institute, AGuide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (4th ed. 2008),at 9.

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