Agency Reasonably Rejected a Proposal that Could Only Be Read on a Mac Computer; Diversified Services Group, Inc.; GAO B-418375.2

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Protest challenging agency’s evaluation is denied. The agency rejected the protester’s proposal because it could not find a letter of commitment for a proposed key person. The protester contended that it had submitted the letter, but that the agency needed Microsoft Word for Mac to read the letter. GAO was unpersuaded, finding that an offeror has an obligation to submit a proposal the agency can actually read.

The Department of Labor (DOL) posted a solicitation seeking janitorial and snow removal services for its building in Washington, DC. The solicitation identified two key positions: a program manager and on-site contractor supervisor. Resumes and letters of intent were required for both positions.

Diversified Services Group, Inc. submitted a quote. Diversified’s quote identified two key personnel: a program manager and a quality control manager. DOL was unable to locate a commitment letter from the project manager. Also, while DOL found a letter from the proposed quality control manager, the text under the signature line contained the name of the proposed program manager. Moreover, while Diversified listed the quality control as a key person, it had not stated whether this person, or anyone else, would be the on-site manager required by the solicitation. DOL found Diversified’s proposal technically unacceptable. Diversified protested.

Diversified argued that its commitment letter from the project manager was included with the proposal, but due to a technical issue, DOL was unable to view it. Specifically, Diversified argued that DOL would have been able to view the letter if it had opened the proposal using Microsoft Word for Mac computers.

GAO rejected this argument. An offeror has the responsibility of submitting a proposal that the agency can read. Diversified’s quote did not specify the use of any particular file format, and did not advise the agency to read the proposal using Word for Mac. When a quote fails to clearly convey required information, the offeror runs the risk of an adverse evaluation.

Diversified also argued that its failure to properly label the proposed quality manager as the required on-site manager, and the mistaken signature block on the quality manager’s letter were minor, correctible errors. GAO disagreed, finding that Diversified had a duty to submit a well-written proposal.

Diversified is represented by Edward J. Tolchin and Andres Vera of Offit Kurman, P.A. The intervenor, Integrity National Corporation, is represented by Ruth E. Ganister of Rosenthal and Ganister, LLC. The agency is represented by Joon Hon and Jose Otero of the Department of Labor. GAO attorneys Christine Milne and Tania Calhoun participated in the preparation of the decision.

GAO - Diversified Services Group