Awardee Deserved High Corporate Experience Rating Even Though Its Experience Was Earned as the Incumbent Protester’s Subcontractor; Netizen Corporation, GAO B-418281 et al.

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Protest challenging agency’s corporate experience and price realism evaluations is denied. The protester, who was the incumbent, argued that the awardee did not deserve an Outstanding rating under the solicitation’s corporate experience factor because it had only worked as the protester’s subcontractor on the predecessor contract. But the solicitation did not require prime contractor experience, and the agency had reasonably found that awardee’s experience as a subcontractor warranted the Outstanding rating. The protester also contended that the agency failed to assess whether the awardee’s price was realistic. But GAO rejected this argument on the grounds that the protester had failed to establish any facts to show the awardee’s price was actually unrealistic.

The Army Corps of Engineers awarded a contract for cybersecurity support services to BreakPoint Labs, LLC. The incumbent, Netizen Corporation, protested, alleging that the Corps misevaluated BreakPoint’s corporate experience and price.

Netizen and BreakPoint both received Outstanding ratings under the solicitation’s corporate experience factor. Netizen claimed that it deserved a higher rating because as the incumbent, it had been performing similar services for the Corps for years. BreackPoint, however, who had been Netizen’s subcontractor, had only performed a small percentage of the predecessor contract and thus could not have had equal corporate experience.

GAO found the Outstanding rating assigned to BreakPoint reasonable. Although BreakPoint had been subcontractor on the predecessor contract, the solicitation did not require prime contract experience, nor did it assign extra credit for working as a prime.

Netizen argued that BreakPoint’s work on the predecessor contract was not relevant because its limited work on that contract was not the same or similar magnitude to the work contemplated by the new contract. But GAO noted that under the solicitation, relevancy was not limited to the dollar amount of the work performed. Rather the agency considered a number factors, including total dollar value, number of tasks performed, capabilities utilized, and project contributions. Using these metrics, the agency reasonably determined that BreakPoint’s work as a subcontractor warranted an Outstanding rating.

Next, Netizen claimed that the Corps failed to evaluate the realism of BreakPoint’s price as required by the solicitation. GAO rejected this argument. Netizen had failed to allege facts that would support a conclusion that BreakPoint’s price was unrealistic. Netizen had not shown that BreakPoint’s price demonstrated a lack of understanding of the requirements or that it created performance risk. Additionally, Netizen did not address the SSA’s finding that BreakPoint’s price was realistic due to the company’s use of less costly personnel and its unique staffing solution.

Netizen is represented by Marc Lamer or Kostos and Lamer, PC. The intervenor, BreakPoint, is represented by Jonathan T. Williams, Matthew E. Feinberg, Meghan F. Leemon and Patrick K. Burns of Piliero Mazza PLLC. The agency is represented by Walker Moller of the U.S. Army. GAO attorneys Michael P. Grogan and Edward Goldstein participated in the preparation of the decision.

GAO - Netizen Corporation