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Government Used Undisclosed Staffing Estimates


An evaluation of proposals for installation support services was improper because the government mechanically and unequally applied undisclosed staffing estimates in determining whether the proposals were acceptable. The request for proposals provided for award to the lowest-price, technically-acceptable offeror. A proposal had to clearly meet the minimum RFP requirements to be acceptable for a particular factor or subfactor, and proposals that did not clearly meet the stated minimum requirements would be deemed unacceptable. The government assigned both protesters a rating of unacceptable under the resources subfactor of the technical suitability factor for failing to offer adequate staffing, found both of their proposals technically unacceptable, and awarded a contract to a higher-priced offeror. The protesters argued the government used an undisclosed staffing estimate to determine whether their staffing plans were adequate. According to the protesters, whenever any of the proposals included less than the number of full time equivalents used to prepare the undisclosed staffing estimate, the government automatically assigned a deficiency, which caused their proposals to be rejected as unacceptable.

Inconsistent Evaluation

In sustaining the protest, the Comptroller General explained "[i]t is inappropriate to determine the acceptability of proposals by the mechanical application of undisclosed government estimates, since doing so fails to assess whether a firm's proposed workforce is particularly skilled and efficient, or whether, because of a unique approach, a firm could satisfactorily perform the work with different staffing than estimated by the [government]." Here, when a deficiency or weakness was identified in a staffing plan, it was because the proposed staffing was less than the level the government found to be necessary to perform the requirement in its undisclosed estimate, even where the variation appeared to be de minimis in comparison to the overall requirement. In every instance, the government mechanically applied its undisclosed staffing estimates to the offerors' proposed staffing to evaluate and determine the acceptability of the proposals. Moreover, the government applied a stricter level of scrutiny to the protesters' proposals. It assessed deficiencies against the protesters' proposals for even minor deviations from the undisclosed staffing estimates, but found weaknesses when similar issues were identified in the awardee's proposal. There was no explanation of record regarding the apparently inconsistent conclusions regarding the adequacy of the proposed staffing. The Comptroller General recommended the government reopen discussions and, if the undisclosed staffing estimates reflected actual minimum requirements, disclose the estimates to all offerors and solicit revised proposals. (Orion Technology, Inc., et al., 27 CGEN 113,862).






(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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