Introductory Letter in Awardee’s Proposal Did Not Count Against Page Limitations; Rocky Mountain Mobile Medical, GAO B-418788 et al.

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Protest challenging the evaluation of the awardee’s and the protester’s proposals is denied. The protester alleged that the awardee’s technical quote exceeded the solicitation’s page limitations because it included a letter of introduction. GAO found that there was no evidence the agency relied on or even considered the letter. The protester objected to the agency’s evaluation of past performance, contending the agency ignored positive aspects of  its performance while highlighting the negative. GAO found the agency properly considered all aspects of the protester’s performance. The protester contended that one of the awardee’s past performance references was not relevant. But GAO found that the reference involved the same type of services contemplated by the solicitation.

The Air Force posted a solicitation seeking ambulance services at two bases. Six vendors, including Rocky Mountain Mobile Medical and Med-Express Ambulance Services, submitted quotes. The Air Force awarded the contract to Med-Express, identifying specific strengths in past performance. Rocky Mountain protested.

Rocky Mountain first argued that Air Force improperly evaluated pages of Med-Express’s technical quote that exceeded the solicitation’s page limitations. The solicitation provided that the technical quote had be six-double spaced pages. Med-Express’s technical quote was six pages, but the company included a single-spaced “letter of introduction” with its quote. Rocky Mountain alleged that the Air Force must have necessarily considered the letter.

But GAO found that nothing in the record indicated the Air Force either evaluated or relied on the letter. In fact, the technical evaluation panel was not even provided with the letters. Nothing in the evaluation report cited the letter. GAO found Rocky Mountain’s argument unsupported.

Rocky Mountain also challenged the Air Force’s past performance evaluation, reasoning that it should have been assessed something higher than a “satisfactory” rating. Rocky Mountain claimed that the Air Force disregarded its positive past performance under the incumbent contract. As support, Rocky Mountain pointed to various positive statements made by assessment in its CPARS.

GAO, however, noted that Rocky Mountain ignored the fact that the assessing official uniformly rated the company’s performance as satisfactory across every assessment category for several years. GAO found nothing in objectionable in the past performance evaluation.

Rocky Mountain argued that the Air Force unreasonably downgraded its past performance based on a single negative past performance record. But GAO found that there was more than a single negative reference. The record showed a pattern of issues with one of Rocky Mountain’s performance. Although Rocky Mountain resolved many of the deficiencies with its performance, the record also showed ongoing performance concerns.

Rocky Mountain also objected to the evaluation of Med-Express’s past performance. Rocky Mountain contended that the Air Force erred in finding one of Med-Express’s references relevant because it was not similar in scope or complexity as compared with the work set forth in the solicitation. Specifically, Rocky Mountain argued that Med-Express’s reference involved surge medical support services while the solicitation sought primary medical transportation. Moreover, the work in Med-Express’s reference had not been performed at a military base.

GAO rejected Rocky Mountain’s argument. The primary services in both the reference and the solicitation was the provision of medical transportation and support services. Med-Express’s reference involved the very type of work contemplated by the solicitation. While the work might not have been identical, that was not the standard of relevance established the solicitation A reference was only not relevant, if it involved “little or none” of the scope or magnitude of effort as compared to the solicitation.

Rocky Mountain is represented by Shaun C. Kennedy, Thomas A. Morales, and Hannah E. Armentrout of the Holland & Hat LLP. The intervenor, Med-Express, is represented by Bradley Drell and B. Gene Taylor, III of Gold, Weems, Bruser, Sues & Rundell. The agency is represented by Laura B. Bauza, Alexis J. Bernstein, Kate Illingworth, and John K, Suehiro of the Air Force. GAO attorneys Evan D. Wesser, Christopher An, and Edward Goldstein participated in the preparation of the decision.

GAO Rocky Mountain Mobile