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The awardee dropped a team member due to a conflict. But GAO found the agency evaluated the awardee’s proposal as if the eliminated team member were still on the team. GAO sustained, concluding the evaluation did not accurately assess how the awardee would perform. 

Deloitte Consulting, LLP, GAO B-422094, B-422094.2 
  • Accurate Quotation – The awardee’s initial proposal reflected that a certain team member would significantly contribute to performance. The agency told the protester that using the team member could create a conflict. The awardee dropped the team member. The protester argued the elimination of the team member was a material change to the awardee’s proposal. The agency didn’t account for the elimination, so the agency evaluated a quotation that did not accurately reflect how the awardee would perform. GAO agreed. The agency had credited the awardee a strength for a team member that it was not going to use. There was no indication the agency considered the awardee’s approach would no longer contain the team member. The evaluation was unreasonable. 
  • Unequal Discussions – The protester contended that the agency held discussions when it notified the awardee about a potential conflict with its team member but didn’t hold discussions with other offerors. The agency said the communication about the conflict did not amount to discussions. GAO rejected the agency’s argument. The agency’s communication with the awardee caused the awardee to make a material change to its proposal. The communication amounted to unequal discussions. But GAO found the protester had not been prejudiced by the error. The protester had not shown how it would have changed its proposal if the agency had held equal discussions. 
  • Inconsistency Analysis – The solicitation required that services listed in the price volume be consistent with services described in the technical volume. The protester argued the awardee’s price and technical volumes were inconsistent. But GAO found the agency had submitted declarations that explained why and how the agency found the volumes consistent. GAO found the protester had not offered a substantive response to the agency’s arguments. 
  • Innovation – The agency penalized the protester for features of its approach. The protester reasoned the solicitation encouraged offerors to propose an innovative approach. The protester complained it had been downgraded for proposing an innovative approach as the solicitation required. But GAO said nothing precluded the agency from negatively assessing an innovative approach. 

The protester is represented by David S. Cohen, John J. O’Brien, Pablo Nichols, and Jason W. Moy of Cordatis LLP. The awardee is represented by Jeffrey M. Chiow, Eleanor M. Rose, and Cassidy Kim of Greenberg Traurig LLP. Pavan Mehrotra and Christine C. Fontenelle of the Department of Homeland Security represent the agency. GAO attorneys Kenneth Kilgour and Jennifer D. Westfall-McGrail participated in the decision. 

–Case summary by Craig LaChance, Senior Editor