Army’s Bomb Award Flawed By Improper Discussions, GAO Holds

The Army’s practice bombs contract award was flawed by improper discussions, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) (Delfasco LLC, GAO, B-409514, 3/2/15, decision released 7/15/16).

The GAO also sustained a protest of the award because the Army failed to adhere to past performance requirements in the solicitation.

In addition, the GAO said that although it doesn’t generally give weight to post-hoc re-valuations, the Army’s evaluation ratings adjustments for both the protester and awardee after initiation of the protest constituted a concession that its prior evaluation was erroneous.

The Army issued a request for proposals to small businesses to perform a fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to produce 25-pound practice bombs and 25-pound suspension lugs.

The Army concluded that GTI Systems Inc.’s proposal represented the best value to the government for its high past performance and technical proposal ratings.  The Army decided this justified paying a higher price premium, the amount of which the GAO redacted.

Agency Misled Protester.  The Army’s discussions weren’t meaningful, the GAO concluded, because they misled protester Delfasco LLC into believing that it had addressed weaknesses the Army previously raised.

Specifically, the GAO said the Army assessed six weaknesses in Delfasco’s final proposal revisions (FPR) under the technical ability factor, but the Army’s call for FPRs didn’t inform Delfasco that any weaknesses remained from previous discussion rounds.

The GAO also sustained the protest because the awardee lacked “relevant” past performance with respect to two necessary skills identified in the solicitation and only somewhat relevant experience with respect to a third skill.

GTI only demonstrated some of the skills needed, and therefore the Army didn’t adequately explain why this limited experience warranted the assigned rating, the GAO said.

Accordingly, the GAO recommended that the Army ask the offerors for revised proposals and terminate GTI’s contract for convenience if its proposal no longer represented the best value.

David S. Cohen and others from Cohen Mohr LLP, Washington, represented the protester.  Debra J. Talley and others from the Department of the Army represented the agency.  Susan A. Poling and others from the Office of the General Counsel, GAO, participated in the preparation of the decision.

By Daniel Seiden

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Seiden in Washington at dseiden@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bna.com

Reproduced with permission from Federal Contracts Report 106 FCR 90, 7/26/16. Copyright 2016 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033) <https://www.bna.com>

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