Additional Strengths Not Merited When Protester’s Proposal Merely Met But Didn’t Exceed Solicitation Requirements; Gritter Francona, Inc., GAO B-420140.2, B-420140.4

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Protest objecting to agency’s evaluation is denied. The protester contended its proposal was entitled to additional strengths. GAO disagreed, finding that the protester’s proposal merely met but did not exceed the solicitation’s requirements.

The Defense Health Agency (DHA) posted an RFP seeking program management support. DHA received 12 proposals in response, including offers from Gritter Francona, Inc. and GC Associates. After conducting separate best-value tradeoffs of each offeror relative to the lowest-price offeror, DHA awarded the contract to GC. Gritter protested.

Gritter alleged that the agency should have assessed its proposal’s additional strengths.. Gritter was particularly upset about a strength the SSEB had assigned to its proposal, but that the SSA removed. But GAO found that Gritter was not entitled to additional strengths. The agency had reasonably found that Gritter’s proposal merely met but did not materially exceed the solicitation’s requirements.

Gritter alleged the agency had improperly evaluated GC’s past performance. GAO, however, found this argument untimely. Gritter had raised this argument as a supplemental protest. Girtter, GAO found, had enough information to raise this argument in its initial protest.

Lastly, Gritter objected to the best value analysis, arguing that the agency failed to qualitatively evaluate proposals and just conducted a lowest-priced, technically-acceptable shootout. GAO disagreed, finding that the SSA reviewed proposals qualitatively and looked beyond adjectival ratings.

Gritter is represented by Douglas P. Hibshman, Nicholas T. Solosky, and David Timm of Fox Rothschild LLP. The intervenor, GC Associates, is represented by Maria L. Panichelli, Karen L. Douglas, and Evan P. Kramer of Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP. The agency is represented by Bradley Richardson and Jason R. Smith of the Defense Health Agency. GAO attorneys Alexander O. Levine and Jennifer D. Westfall-McGrail participated in the preparation of the decision.

GAO - Gritter Francona