Odle Management Group, LLC--Costs
B-404855.2, Mar 26, 2012
Odle Management Group, LLC (OMG) requests that we recommend that it be reimbursed the costs associated with filing and pursuing its bid protest against the Department of Labors (DOL) award of a contract to CHP International under solicitation No. DOLJ10UA00032, for outreach and admissions, and career training services.
We grant OMGs request in part and deny it in part.
Matter of: Odle Management Group, LLC--Costs
Date: March 26, 2012
1. GAO recommends reimbursement of the costs of filing and pursuing protest challenging the agencys conduct of misleading discussions, where issue was clearly meritorious but agency unduly delayed taking corrective action.
2. Protest costs are not recommended with respect to issues concerning agencys evaluation of proposals and source selection decision where such issues were readily severable from challenge to agencys conduct of misleading discussions, the only issue found to be clearly meritorious at Government Accountability Office outcome prediction alternative dispute resolution conference.
Odle Management Group, LLC (OMG) requests that we recommend that it be reimbursed the costs associated with filing and pursuing its bid protest against the Department of Labors (DOL) award of a contract to CHP International under solicitation No. DOLJ10UA00032, for outreach and admissions, and career training services. 
We grant OMGs request in part and deny it in part.
OMG initially protested the agencys award of a contract to CHP, arguing that the agency misevaluated proposals and made an unreasonable best value source selection decision. OMG also asserted that the agency misled it during discussions. Specifically, the agency advised OMG during discussions that its proposed staffing appeared to be high; in response to the agencys discussion question, OMG lowered its proposed staffing, and the agency ultimately identified OMGs proposed staffing as a weakness.
Subsequent to the development of the record, including the filing of an agency report and receipt of comments, our Office conducted an outcome prediction alternative dispute resolution (ADR) conference. In the course of that ADR, the cognizant Government Accountability Office (GAO) attorney advised the agency that GAO likely would sustain OMGs protest on the basis that the agency had misled OMG during discussions. The GAO attorney recommended that the agency reopen discussions, obtain and evaluate revised proposals, and make a new source selection decision. Because our recommendation involved the agency reopening the acquisition, we did not reach the merits of OMGs other issues.
In response to the ADR, DOL advised our Office that it intended to take corrective action. In particular, the agency advised that it would reopen discussions with the competitive range offerors, obtain and evaluate revised proposals and make a new source selection decision. Based on the agencys proposed corrective action, we dismissed OMGs protest as academic. B-404855, May 18, 2011.
In response to OMGs request for reimbursement, DOL concedes that the protester is entitled to a recommendation that it be reimbursed its protest costs. Agency Report at 2. The agency argues, however, that OMGs recovery should be limited to those costs that were incurred in connection with its allegation relating to misleading discussions. According to the agency, although we found this aspect of the protest to be clearly meritorious (as evidenced by the view expressed during the ADR), we did not find the remainder of OMGs allegations clearly meritorious. The agency further maintains that the facts and legal theories underpinning OMGs misleading discussions argument are distinct from the facts and legal theories underpinning the remainder of its protest, such that the costs incurred in connection with the former allegation are clearly severable from the costs incurred in connection with the latter allegations.
We agree with the agency that reimbursement of OMGs protest costs should be confined to the costs incurred in connection with its misleading discussions issue. As noted by the agency, and as reflected in the views of the GAO attorney expressed during the ADR, the only protest issue that we found clearly meritorious was that of misleading discussions. Although as a general rule, we may recommend that a successful protester be reimbursed its incurred costs with respect to all issues pursued and not merely those upon which it prevails, AAR Aircraft Servs.--Costs, B-291670.6, May 12, 2003, 2003 CPD ¶ 100 at 9, in appropriate cases we have limited our recommendation for the award of protest costs where a part of those costs is allocable to an unsuccessful protest issue that is so clearly severable from the successful issues as to essentially constitute a separate protest. BAE Tech. Servs., Inc.--Costs, B-296699.3, Aug. 11, 2006, 2006 CPD ¶ 122 at 3; Interface Flooring Sys., Inc.-Claim for Attorneys Fees, B-225439.5, July 29, 1987, 87-2 CPD ¶ 106 at 2-3. In determining whether protest issues are so clearly severable as to essentially constitute separate protests, we consider, among other things, the extent to which the issues are interrelated or intertwined--i.e., the extent to which successful and unsuccessful arguments share a common core set of facts, are based on related legal theories, or are otherwise not readily severable. See Sodexho Mgmt., Inc.--Costs, B-289605.3, Aug. 6, 2003, 2003 CPD ¶ 136 at 29.
Here, OMGs technical evaluation and source selection issues were not clearly intertwined with its misleading discussions issue. Whether the agencys evaluation of proposals and source selection decision were reasonable concern legal theories and underlying facts that are distinct and severable from those relevant to OMGs misleading discussions issue. Focused Mgmt., Inc.--Costs, B-404029.6, Oct. 3, 2011, 2011 CPD ¶ 204 at 4-5. Under these circumstances, we conclude that OMGs reimbursement of protest costs should be limited to those costs incurred in connection with its misleading discussions protest basis.
We recommend that OMG be reimbursed the costs associated with filing and pursuing its protest on the issue of misleading discussions, including reasonable attorneys fees. OMG should submit its certified claim, detailing the time spent and costs incurred, directly to the agency within 60 days of its receipt of this decision. Bid Protest Regulations, 4 C.F.R. § 21.8(f)(1) (2011).
The request is granted in part and denied in part.
Lynn H. Gibson
 In its initial submission, OMG also requested that we recommend that it be reimbursed its proposal preparation costs. The agency responded to OMGs request and, in its subsequent submission to our Office, OMG made no further mention of its request for proposal costs. We consider this aspect of OMGs request abandoned. Recreation Resource Mgmt. of America, Inc., B-406072, Feb. 1, 2012, 2012 CPD ¶ 60 at 6 n.3.