Protester Said Its Proposal Had a Massive Technical Advantage Over the Awardee. Did GAO Think the Proposal Was So Self-Evidently Superior?

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The protester challenged the best-value tradeoff, arguing the agency erred in finding that the protester’s proposal only had a slight technical advantage over the awardee. The protester contended its proposal was far superior to the awardee’s. But GAO didn’t see such a vast chasm between proposals. The protester’s argument amounted to mere disagreement with the agency’s evaluation conclusions.

Barbaricum LLC, GAO B-419826.4

Background

The Army issued a solicitation to small businesses holding a strategic resources IDIQ contract. The solicitation sought enterprise information systems support. The Army received proposals from several offerors, including Barbaricum LLC and OBXTek, Inc. The Army awarded the contract to OBXTek. While Barbaricum had a slight advantage under the technical factor, the Army reasoned that advantage was not worth Barbaricum’s 16% price premium. Barbaricum protested.

Analysis

Barbaricum objected to the best-value tradeoff. Barbaricum contended the Army unreasonably concluded that its proposal represented only a slight technical advantage. Barbaricum believed its proposal was far superior to OBXTek’s.

GAO didn’t see it the same way. The award decision thoughtfully considered the underlying merits of each proposal. While OBXTeck had a weakness assessed to its proposal under the technical factor, the Army had reasonably the firm’s other strengths outweighed this weakness. Barbaricum’s arguments amounted to disagreement with the agency’s conclusions.

Barbaricum also argued that the Army gave undue weight to price even though the solicitation stated that the non-price factors were significantly more important than price. But GAO found that Barbaricum was essentially arguing that price should have only been a consideration in the tradeoff if the proposals were equal. The solicitation did not require such an approach, rather, it allowed the agency to consider all evaluation factors with an understanding that the non-price factors were more important. GAO determined that the agency had properly weighed price relative to other factors.

Barbaricum is represented by Ryan C. Bradel and Michael E. Hatch of Ward & Berry PLLC. The intervenor, OBXTek, is represented by Lewis P. Rhodes of MacMahon, Welch and Learned, PLCC. The agency is represented by Jonathan A. Hardage of the Army. GAO attorneys Michael P. Grogan and Evan D. Wesser participated in the preparation of the decision.

–Case summary by Craig LaChance, Senior Editor

GAO - Barbaricum LLC