The Reevaluation Differed from the Initial Evaluation. Why Couldn’t this Protester Get Relief?

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The agency reevaluated proposals following a corrective action. The protester complained that the reevaluation had differed from the initial evaluation, and that the agency had failed to reconcile these differences. But absent stark differences between an initial and reevaluation, GAO will not find a reevaluation unreasonable just because it differs from the original evaluation. Here, the differences between the evaluations were slight. GAO saw no reason to question the agency.

Glacier Technologies, LLC, GAO B-420775.5

Background

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued an RFQ to small business vendors holding the agency’s information technology blanket purchase agreement. The RFQ contemplated issuance of a task order. USDA received quotations from Glacier Technologies and Dynamo-Alpha Omega. USDA awarded the task order to Dynamo.

Glacier filed a protest with GAO, challenging. the confidence ratings assigned to vendors. GAO indicated during an outcome prediction ADR that it was likely to sustain the challenge to the confidence ratings. USDA took corrective action to reevaluate quotations.

After the reevaluation, USDA once again selected Dynamo for award. Glacier filed a second protest.

Analysis

Reconciliation of Evaluation Results

Glacier complained that the reevaluation after corrective action differed from the initial evaluation. In particular, USDA had removed some of the positive findings it had assessed in the initial evaluation and added negative findings. Glacier alleged USDA should have reconciled this differing evaluation results.

GAO noted that the fact that a reevaluation after corrective action differs from the original evaluation does not constitute evidence that that reevaluation was unreasonable. GAO will only question a reevaluation when the results of the reevaluation are “starkly different” from the original evaluation. Here, while the two evaluations differed slightly, the difference were not stark enough for GAO to question the agency.

Dynamo’s High Confidence Rating

Glacier contended that Dynamo did not deserve the very high confidence rating it received under the RFQ’s prior experience factor. Glacier reasoned that Dynamo had not maximized the use of small disadvantaged businesses in a manner that warranted this very high rating.

But GAO found that even if Glacier were correct about the rating, it had not been prejudiced by the error. If USDA had been wrong about Dynamo’s use of small disadvantaged businesses, Dynamo still would have received a high confidence rating under the experience factor, which was still superior to Glacier’s some confidence rating.

Glacier is represented by Robert K. Tompkins, Jeremy D. Burkhart, Danielle R. Rich, and Richard D. Ariel of Holland & Knight, LLP. The intervenor, Dynamo-Alpha Omega, is represented by Noah B. Bleicher, Carla J. Weiss, Aime J. Joo, and Scott E. Whitman of Jenner & Block, LLP. The agency is represented by Adam Humphries of the Department of Agriculture. GAO attorneys Raymond Richards and John Sorrenti participated in the preparation of the decision.

–Case summary by Craig LaChance, Senior Editor

GAO - Glacier Technologies