Did the Agency Relax Transition Plan Requirements for the Incumbent?

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The protester argued the agency disparately evaluated proposals when it downgraded the protester’s transition plan for a lack of specifics but didn’t penalize the awardee for a similar lack of detail. Instead, the protester argued, the agency had improperly relied on the awardee’s incumbent status to fill in the details. GAO saw no problem with this. An agency may evaluate a transition plan more favorably when it relies on existing facilities under the incumbent contract. In any event, GAO determined that by proposing the existing facilities, the awardee had a more specific, detailed plan than the protester.

Air Borealis Limited Partnership, GAO B-420637, B-420637.2

Background

The Air Force posted an RFP seeking fixed-wing aircraft services in Canada. Two offerors, Air Borealis LImited Partnership, and the incumbent, Kenn Borek Air Ltd., submitted proposals. The Air Force awarded the contract to Kenn Borek. Air Borealis’s proposal was unacceptable because its transition plan lacked specific information on how the company would obtain hangers and services for planes. Air Borealis protested.

Analysis

Air Borealis alleged the Air Force disparately evaluated transition plans. Air Borealis did not dispute that its plan lacked specifics. Rather, it argued that Kenn Borek’s plan also lacked specifics, but instead of finding unacceptable, the Air Force simply relied on the Kenn Borek’s incumbency in accepting its transition plan.

GAO didn’t see a problem. An agency may consider an offeror’s use of incumbent facilities and may evaluate more favorably a proposed transition plan that relies on existing facilities under an incumbent contract. Moreover, GAO found that Kenn Boreck had proposed to use actual bases used in the incumbent contract while Air Borealis had merely identified locations that were available. Thus, the two proposals contained meaningful differences. There was no disparate treatment.

Air Borealis is represented by Tyler Evans and Paul Rowley of Covington & Burling, LLP. The agency is represented by Colonel Frank Yoon, Major Alissa J. Schrider, Sandy Caruco, and Kevin P Steins of the Air Force. GAO attorneys Kenneth Kilgour and Jennifer D. Westfall-McGrail participated in the preparation of the decision.

GAO - Air Borealis Limited Partnership