Contrary to Protester’s Contention, Services Proposed by Awardee Were Included in Its Federal Supply Schedule; Gartner, Inc., GAO B-419190, B419190.2

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Protest challenging agency’s evaluation is denied. The protester alleged the agency failed to adequately document the evaluation. But GAO found the documentation sufficient because it was able to identify the agency’s rationale for selecting the awardee. The protester argued that the awardee did not offer to provide all the RFQ requirements. GAO found that the protester was simply mistaken. The awardee had plainly offered to provide what the RFQ requested. The protester alleged the awardee was offering items not included on its FSS contract. GAO disagree, finding the awardee’s FSS contract listed the services it had offered the agency.

The Army issued an RFQ to holders of the DoD Enterprise Software Initiative blanket purchase agreements. The blanket purchase agreements were issued against the vendors’ federal supply schedule contracts. The RFQ sought research and advisory services covering federal government IT policies and best practices.

Two vendors, Gartner, Inc and Forrester Research, Inc., submitted quotes. The Army selected Forrester’s lower-priced quote for award. Gartner protested.

The RFQ required vendors to provide the agency professional networking opportunities to enhance their knowledge of the latest IT research strategies. These networking events had to occur over a minimum of three days. Gartner contended that the evaluation record was inadequately documented because it did not show that the evaluators had considered whether Forrester’s events met the requirements.

But GAO found that the record showed the evaluators compared quotes against the performance requirements to ensure each quote offered the requisite features. GAO concluded that the record contained sufficient documentation because it was able to identify the specific rationale for why the agency found Forrester’s quote acceptable.

Gartner also alleged that Forrester did not offer to provide networking events lasting a minimum of three days. GAO’s review, however, showed that Forrester plainly offered to provide agency personnel with access to three-day events.

The RFQ required the selected vendor to make staff available for research inquiries, including document review services. Gartner contended that Forrester had reserved for itself to not review any documents exceeding 20 pages. GAO found little support for this argument. Forrester’s quote clearly stated that it would provide unlimited documents reviews.

Lastly, Gartner argued that Forrester had quoted services that were not available in its FSS contract. Gartner claimed that Forrester’s schedule contract did not offer strategy briefings, regional networking, and other things required by the RFQ.

GAO noted that when a vendor is alleged to have offered services outside the scope of its schedule contract, the inquiry whether the function being sought under a solicitation is the same as the function covered by the vendor’s FSS contract. Here, Forrester’s schedule included multiple research products and those products offered the strategy briefings, networking, etc. sought by the RFQ. In particular, Forrester offered an Executive Program product that encompassed many of the RFQ’s requirements.

Gartner is represented by Keith R. Szeliga and Shaunna Bailey of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP. The intervenor, Forrester, is represented by Lindsay Simmons and Hopewell Darneille of Jackson Kelly PLLC. The agency is represented by Major Nicole M. Venious of the Army. GAO attorneys Todd C. Culliton and Tania Calhoun participated in the preparation of the decision.

GAO Gartner