Government Contracts Best-Value Determination Was Reasonable and Supported
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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Best-Value Determination Was Reasonable and Supported

By Government Contracts Editorial Staff

A challenge to an award decision was rejected because the best-value determination was reasonable, supported by the record, and consistent with the request for proposals. The RFP for health insurance benefit administration services provided for award on a best-value tradeoff basis considering technical approach, past performance, and cost factors. The technical evaluation panel assessed the protester 9 strengths and no weaknesses, significant weaknesses, or deficiencies under the technical factor, while the awardee was assessed 11 strengths, 1 weakness, and no significant weaknesses or deficiencies. For past performance, the TEP assessed numerous strengths to both offerors, but the protester received one weakness while the awardee received six. In choosing the awardee’s $567,937,312 proposal over the protester’s $550,170,389 proposal, the source selection authority found both technical proposals “include[d] similar benefits associated with automations and tools improving efficiencies,” but the benefits associated with the awardee’s implementation, staffing plan and key personnel, and other features, were “of greater value to the [g]overnment.” Although both offerors received the highest past performance rating, the SSA found the awardee’s past performance record was superior because, for its two most relevant contracts, the awardee “experienced significant contract cost savings for sustained periods ... even while processing greater workloads and without the need for additional funding.” Finally, the SSA found the value and benefit of the awardee’s technical approach and past performance was worth its $17,766,923 price premium.

No Improper Incumbent Preference. According to the Comptroller General, the lengthy source selection decision document reasonably considered the strengths, weaknesses, and benefits offered by each proposal and made a rational best-value tradeoff. In comparing the two offerors, the SSA focused on the fact that the awardee offered a low risk implementation, staffing plan, and key personnel that would ensure a seamless workload transition. The awardee proposed 100-percent experienced and knowledgeable personnel who could start contract performance immediately, while the protester’s proposed approach required new hires. Though this advantage may have arisen from the awardee’s incumbent status, the government identified a meaningful distinction between the two proposals that did not evidence an improper incumbent preference. The government also reasonably determined the awardee had superior past performance. Although the awardee received six weaknesses under the past performance factor and the protester received only one, the SSA explained the awardee’s “performance record strengths collectively, and significantly, outweigh[ed] the weakness identified” and highlighted the awardee’s performance on the two most relevant contracts. The SSA also stated that some of the assessed weaknesses were based on less relevant contracts of medium significance and were very moderate weaknesses that had no impact on the award decision. (CGS Administrators, LLC, 36 CGEN ¶117,281)

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