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Selection Decision Was Flawed, Award Enjoined

A selection decision awarding a protection services contract was improper, according to the Court of Federal Claims, because the source selection authority erroneously concluded the protester's and awardee's proposals were "basically equal" and the SSA failed to discuss technical/price trade-off factors. The protester challenged the award of a five-year, $1.186 billion contract to provide security guard, fire fighting, and emergency medical response services at 14 NASA locations. The solicitation for the best-value procurement required proposals to be evaluated under three factors: mission suitability, past performance, and price. Mission suitability was more important than past performance, and the two factors combined were significantly more important than price. A source evaluation board was to evaluate the proposals and report its findings to the SSA, who was responsible for the final source selection decision. The protester challenged the SSA's decision, issued the same day the SSA received the SEB's final evaluation. The protester contended the SSA's conclusion the protester's and awardee's proposals were "basically equal" as to the two nonprice factors was flawed, and the selection decision should have discussed the protester's significant strengths and the technical-price trade-off between the protester's significant strengths and higher price.
Ipso Facto Arbitrary

With regard to the past performance factor, the court found the administrative record supported the SSA's conclusions and the SSA did not err in relying on the SEB's final findings. However, the evaluation under the mission suitability factor and the best-value determination were flawed. The SEB violated the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to create a record that justified the awardee's score increase for two mission suitability subfactors. The SSA in turn misunderstood the protester's improvement process, which caused its conclusion regarding the comparability of the two offerors' proposals under the mission suitability factor to be ipso facto arbitrary and capricious. In addition, the SSA determined a technical/price trade-off analysis was required, but the selection decision contained no discussion of the relevant factors. The circumstances also suggested the SSA may have influenced the SEB to increase the awardee's ratings, so that the SEB's final findings already reflected the SSA's best value decision. The court concluded limited injunctive relief was warranted. It ordered the government to appoint both a reconstructed SEB to evaluate three mission suitability subfactors and issue reconsidered final findings, and a new SSA to issue a reconsidered and independent final decision with a detailed explanation of the best value determination. (Wackenhut Services, Inc. v. U.S., et al., FedCl, 53 CCF 79,041)


(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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