Protester Can’t Submit Project It Has Not Yet Performed as Prior Experience; Creoal Consulting, LLC,GAO B-419460, B-419460.2

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Protest challenging agency’s evaluation of quotations is denied. The protester alleged that it should have been rated higher under the prior experience factor for a contract it was currently performing. GAO, however, found that the protester had not yet performed the portion of the contract for which it claimed experience. The protester thus could not rely on that contract as prior experience. The protester alleged that the agency ignored portions of the quotation that demonstrated its technical capabilities. But GAO found the protester had not submitted a well-written proposal that sufficiently explained its capabilities. The protester asserted the agency disparately evaluated proposals. GAO disagreed, finding that the disparate rating were based on differences in proposals.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an RFQ to holders of GSA FSS information technology contracts. The RFQ sought to establish blanket purchase agreements for integrator support services to help DHS transition to standard financial, procurement, and asset management business practices.

Several vendors, including Creoal Consulting, LLC, submitted quotations. DHS issued seven blanket purchase agreement, but did not award one to Creoal, finding that its quotation did not offer the best value. Creoal filed a protest with GAO.

Creoal objected to the “some confidence” rating it received under the RFQ’s prior experience factor. Creoal asserted that DHS improperly discounted one of contract references because the contract was still being performed. Creoal argued that the RFQ stated that DHS would consider ongoing projects.

GAO noted that the RFQ allowed the submission of ongoing projects ft at least one year of performance was completed and the vendor clearly described the stage that the project was at. Here, Creoal submitted a contract it was performing as an example of its experience transitioning a governmental financial system. But Creoal stated in its proposal that the actual work transitioning the system would take place in the future. Indeed, during exchanges with DHS, Creoal confirmed that it had developed a transition strategy, but the actual transition had yet to occur. DHS reasonably concluded that Creoal had not demonstrated the required transitioning experience.

Creoal also argued that its quotation deserved a higher rating under the past experience factor because it exceeded the RFQ’s requirements. GAO, however, found the evaluation of Creoal unobjectionable. The RFQ required vendors to demonstrate experience integrating and supporting procurement management and contract writing software suites. Creoal’s quotation was bereft of references concerning this criterion for three of the four contracts it submitted.

Creoal next challenged the technical evaluation, alleging that DHS improperly determined its quotation only offered a single software solution, despite language that demonstrated otherwise. Creoal contended that DHS failed to account for portions of quotation that discussed its team’s capabilities with respect to multiple software suites.

GAO found that the record belied this argument. The evaluators specifically identified that one of Creoal’s subcontractors had experience with multiple software solutions, but they found that Creoal had  not explained how this expertise would be utilized. It is a vendor’s responsibility to submit an adequately written proposal that demonstrates technical capabilities.

Creoal alleged DHS applied unstated criteria when it concluded that Creoal’s discussion of a single software solution decreased confidence its proposal. Creoal argued that the RFQ did not require any particular software solution.

The RFQ, however, made clear that vendors would be required to provide support across multiple software solutions. Thus, while DHS did not require a particular number of software suites, it did consider the breadth of a vendor’s approach. The agency would have greater confidence in an approach that could demonstrate knowledge across a range of potential software platforms. Creoal’s approach, which predominantly relied on a particular approach, had not demonstrated a sufficient breadth of capability.

Finally, Creoal contended that DHS disparately evaluated quotations. Creoal contended that DHS determined that the quotation from an awardee, Savantage Solutions, provided multiple benefits while not giving Creoal credit for similar benefits. GAO, however found that despite Creoal’s “lamentations of unequal treatment,” the record showed that the benefits identified in Savantage’s quotation were not included in Creoal’s quotation.

Creoal is represented by Thomas A. Coulter of Whiteford Taylor & Preston LLP. Intervenor Savantage Solutions is represented by Llewelyn M. Engel of McDermott Will & Emery. Intervenor CGE Federal is represented by Jeffrey M. Chiow, Neil H. O’Donnell, Emily A. Wieser, and Eleanor M. Ross of Rogers Joseph O’Donnell. The agency is represented by Charlene T. Storino of the Department of Homeland Security. GAO attorneys Michael P. Grogan and Evan D. Wesser participated in the preparation of the decision.

GAO - Creoal Consulting