RFP Didn’t Require an Organizational Chart, But Evaluators Suggested that Protester Should’ve Provided One. Did this Suggestion Amount to Unstated Criteria?

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The agency assessed a weakness to the protester for not providing detail on its communications strategy under the RFP’s management factor. The agency noted the strategy lacked an organizational chart. The protester argued the solicitation had not required an organizational chart, so the agency must’ve applied unstated criteria. GAO found, however, that the reference to the organizational chart was not unstated criteria—it was just a suggestion as to how the protester could’ve have presented the missing information.

Computer World Services Corporation, GAO B-421130

Background

The Department of Energy (DOE) issued an RFP seeking system administration support. Three offerors, including Computer World Services Corporation (CWS) and VariQ-CV JV, submitted proposals. DOE selected VariQ for award. CWS protested.

Analysis

Technical Approach

CWS objected to two weaknesses assessed to its technical approach. First, CWS challenged a weakness it received for not providing sufficient details as to how it would support all the activities in the performance work statement. GAO found the weakness justified. CWS’s proposal had not address several of the enumerated tasks in the PWS.

Second, CWS challenged a weakness it received for proposing one individual to handle two requirements. CWS argued the solicitation did not prohibit offerors from proposing a single individual to handle multiple requirements. But GAO reasoned that while the proposal had not prohibited an offeror from proposing a single individual to cover multiple tasks, the agency was already concerned that CMS had not provided sufficient detail on how it would perform all the tasks. CWS’s reliance on a single individual to cover multiple tasks reasonably gave the agency additional cause for concern.

Management and Key Personnel

CWS complained about a weakness it received under the Business Management and Key Personnel for lack of detail on its communications plan. DOE noted that proposal lacked detail on communications strategy and didn’t include a organizational chart. CWS reasoned the solicitation did not require offerors to submit an organizational chart, so the agency must’ve applied unstated criteria.

GAO rejected CWS’s argument. The reference to the organizational chart was not unstated criteria. Rather, it was a suggestion — an example of how CWS might have communicated some of the information about communications strategy missing from its proposal.

CWS is represented by Matthew T. Schoonover, Matthew P. Moriarty, John M. Mattox II, Ian P. Patterson, and Timothy J. Laughlin of Schoonover & Moriarty LLC. The intervenor, VariQ, is represented by Kelly E. Buroker and Tamara Droubi of Vedder Price PC. The agency is represented by James Jurich, Marianna Lvovsky, and Greta Ilieve of the Department of Energy. GAO attorneys Michael A. Willems and Evan D. Wesseer participated in the preparation of the decision.

–Case summary by Craig LaChance, Senior Editor