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Best-Value Tradeoff Analyses Selecting Lower Prices Insufficient

A protester was entitled to tailored injunctive relief, according to the Court of Federal Claims, because two of three best-value tradeoff analyses did not explain why it was not appropriate for the government to pay a premium for a technically superior proposal. The request for proposals for information technology services accorded the technical factor significantly more importance than three other non-price factors of slightly varying importance and stated that the combined non-price factors were "significantly more important" than price. In challenging 15 awards under the multiple award task order contract, the protester contended the SSA's best-value analysis placed "arbitrary and improper emphasis on price" and was not adequately documented or explained.

No Rationale

Although FAR 15.308 expressly requires an SSA to document the rationale for selecting a proposal that involves "additional cost," it does not excuse an SSA from documenting the reasoning for declining to pay a premium for a higher-priced, technically superior proposal, particularly if non-price factors are more important. The SSA's best-value tradeoff analysis with respect to the protester and technically equal, lower priced offerors did not violate the documentation requirement of FAR 15.308, because where proposals are technically equal, a best-value tradeoff analysis between price and technical factors is not required. However, the SSA's documentation and explanation were insufficient for two best-value tradeoff analyses involving lower priced offerors with respect to which the protester was technically superior. The SSA's statement that the protester's "higher-priced proposal does not exhibit sufficient superiority in the non-[p]rice factors to warrant an award" did not demonstrate a rationale for selecting technically inferior proposals other than price, and references to evaluators' briefings did not satisfy the documentation requirement or explain the SSA's best-value tradeoff analysis. The court ordered the government to conduct a new best-value tradeoff analysis of the protester's and three other offerors' proposals and, if the protester was not awarded a contract, a new analysis of the protester's and a fourth offeror's proposal. ( Standard Communications, Inc. v. U.S., et al., FedCl, 56 CCF 79,693)




(The news featured above is a selection from the news covered in the Government Contracts Report Letter, which is published weekly and distributed to subscribers of the Government Contracts Reporter. )


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