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The agency assessed weaknesses to the protester’s management approach. The weaknesses were based on what the agency knew about the protester’s proposed subcontractor‘s performance on the incumbent contract. The protester argued the agency could only rely on this “close at hand” information when evaluating past performance, not management approach. But GAO didn’t see a problem.

AttainX, Inc., GAO B-422141.2
  • Close at Hand – The agency assessed weaknesses to the protester’s management approach because the protester’s proposed subcontractor had problems with the incumbent contract. The protester argued that while an agency can consider “close at hand” personal knowledge in evaluating past performance, it should not have relied on close-at-hand knowledge in evaluating the management approach. GAO rejected the argument. An agency may be obligated to consider close-at-hand information when evaluating past performance. But this does not preclude the agency from considering close-at-hand information when assessing other factors. An agency always has discretion to rely on extrinsic information of which it is aware.
  • Relevance of Subcontractor’s Performance – Aside from the close-at-hand argument, the protester argued the agency should not have considered the subcontractor’s performance. The protester reasoned the subcontractor’s performance was under a different contract, and that the protester’s approach was not the same as the subcontractor’s previous approach. GAO, however, noted the protester had made it clear that it would rely on this subcontractor’s “deep historical understanding.” The agency reasonably concluded the protester’s approach relied heavily on the subcontractor’s prior approach.
  • Past Performance – The protester argued the awardee lacked relevant past performance and thus should have received a neutral—as opposed to good—past performance rating. GAO agreed, but it found the protester had not been prejudiced by the error. The award decision was based on the awardee’s superior approach. A neutral past performance rating would not have changed the outcome.

The protester is represented by Samuel S. Finnerty, Katherine B. Burrows, Daniel J. Figuenick, and Kelly A. Kirchgasser of Piliero Mazza PLLC. The awardee is represented by Stephanie D. Wilson, Rachael C. Haley, and Charles L. Bonani of Berenzweig Leonard LLP. The agency is represented by Jeffrey D. Webb of the Department of Homeland Security. GAO attorneys Heather Self and Pater H. Tran participated in the decision.

–Case summary by Craig LaChance, Editor in Chief