The protester objected to a weakness it received for not demonstrating communications among staff. The protester argued it was the incumbent, so the agency already knew how the protester approached communications. GAO, however, noted that demonstrating communications was a technical requirement. The protester could not ignore this requirement and rest on its incumbency as a substitute for a well-written proposal.
Navarre Corporation, GAO B-419088.4
The Department of Veterans Affairs awarded a contract for wheelchair van transportation to KTS Solutions, Inc. Navarre Corporation, the incumbent, protested.
The solicitation’s instructions stated quotations would only be considered from offerors who were financially responsible. Navarre alleged that this instruction made financial responsibility a material solicitation requirement. What’s more, Navarre contended, KTS had not demonstrated that it was financially responsible.
Generally GAO does not review determinations of responsibility since that is left to the contractor’s discretion. GAO will only review responsibility if responsibility is a definitive evaluation criterion. Here, however, financial responsibility was not an evaluation criterion. The responsibility language was included in the solicitation’s instructions, not in the evaluation criteria. The solicitation did not require vendors to establish their financial qualifications. What’s more, the financial responsibility language was expressed in general terms. There were no specific objective standards by which to judge responsibility. GAO refused to consider the responsibility issue.
Navarre alleged that KTS could not have properly certified that it would have all the vehicles required for the contract because KTS’s existing vehicles were being used for other contracts. But GAO found that vendors were not required to possess all the vehicles at the time of proposal submission. They only had to demonstrate an ability to obtain vehicles. KTS had provided information necessary to demonstrate that it could obtain vehicles.
Navarre objected to a weakness assessed to quotation for not demonstrating how the company would directly communicate with drivers. Navarre alleged this weakness was unreasonable because it was the incumbent; the VA already knew how the company would communicate with drivers.
But GAO found that Navarre was improperly relying on its incumbent status in lieu of submitting a well-written proposal. The solicitation required offerors to describe their approach to driver communications. Navarre’s quotation provided no information on communications. The quotation thus failed to address a technical requirement. The VA properly assessed a weakness.
Navarre is represented by William M. Weisberg of the Law Office of William Weisberg. The intervenor, KTS, is represented by Sarah Schauerte Reida of Legal Meets Practical, LLC. The agency is represented by Laetitia C. Coleman of the Department of Veterans Affairs. GAO attorneys Emily O’Hara and Peter H. Tran participated in the preparation of the decision.GAO-Navarre Corporation