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Protester Was Not Prejudiced by Evaluation Errors

A protester was not entitled to relief for the government's evaluation errors, according to the Court of Federal Claims, because the price difference between the offers precluded a finding of prejudice. In evaluating the quotations for an automated recruiting system, the government evaluated the two offerors' technical proposals on a point system with adjectival ratings. For example, the Technical Merit factor provided for ratings of 52-60 (excellent), 43-51 (good), 34-42 (satisfactory), 25-33 (poor), and 0-24 (unacceptable). The score sheets identified how the point system related to the adjectival ratings but did not instruct the evaluators how to assign points, how strengths should correspond to total points, or what constituted a "perfect" score. Also, the adjectival ratings for the Technical Merit subfactors were undefined. As a result, the evaluators' ratings varied significantly. Four of the six evaluators found the protester's technical quotation was superior, while two evaluators found the awardee's quotation was superior by a large margin. There were also inconsistencies in the written portion of the technical evaluation concerning the assignment of strengths and weaknesses. Finally, there were questionable communications between the contracting officer and the evaluators. In response to the CO's inquiries, two evaluators raised the awardee's scores, and there was no evidence the CO questioned the evaluators concerning the protester's scores.

Substantial Price Difference

However, the protester could not reasonably show it would have received the award of the blanket purchase agreement absent the errors. For evaluation purposes, the CO used one of the line items to compare pricing, and the awardee's evaluated price for the full term of the contract, including transition costs as a non-incumbent contractor, was $3,204,351. The protester was the incumbent, and its price, without transition costs, was $7,000,486, which was 218 percent higher than the awardee's evaluated price. When adding the protester's premium for the monthly invoicing required by the RFQ, its price increased to $11,698,107. According to the CO, if the government used a CLIN maximum, the awardee's total price would be $13 million, while the protester's would range from $78 million to $112 million. Although the protester's margin of technical superiority may have increased if the evaluators had performed their duties properly, any changes to the technical scoring in the protester's favor would not have diminished the rationality of awarding the BPA to a qualified offeror whose price was significantly lower. (Allied Technology Group, Inc. v. U.S., et al., FedCl, 54 CCF 79,368)




(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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