By Government Contracts Editorial Staff
The Comptroller General sustained a protest of a contract award for grounds maintenance services because the technical evaluation was unreasonable and inadequately documented. Under the request for proposals’ technical approach/management evaluation factor, offerors had to submit a narrative response that clearly demonstrated their “understanding of an approach to accomplishing the complexity and magnitude of service requirements.” Offerors were required to discuss five elements: phase-in transition plan; workforce management; key personnel; environmental and security; and pest control and grounds maintenance. The government assessed the protester’s proposal three deficiencies and three significant weaknesses and assigned the protester an unacceptable rating.
Improper Deficiencies. There was no support for the government’s concerns that formed the basis for the deficiencies. First, a deficiency for violation of the FAR 52.219-14 limitation on subcontracting clause was unreasonable. The government relied on the protester’s statements that it would focus on “accounts payable, human resources, payroll, government partnership, union relations, and accounting,” while the subcontractor would focus on “operations, quality control, and safety,” to conclude “[t]he work to be performed by the subcontractor … constitutes more than 50% of the scope of work.” However, this language did not, on its face, indicate that the protester would not comply with the clause. The government’s finding that two positions would not be on site was also unreasonable. Although it was undisputed that the RFP required the individuals to be on site, it did not require the offeror to provide any affirmative statement concerning their on-site status, and nothing in the protester’s proposal stated the individuals would not be on site. A third deficiency—failing to demonstrate knowledge of state environmental agency requirements—was unreasonable because nothing in the RFP instructed offerors to demonstrate knowledge of the requirements. The RFP instructed offerors to explain how they would ensure landscaping maintenance and plans met the agency’s regulations, and the protester’s proposal stated that it would ensure compliance through training.
Improper Significant Weaknesses. Similarly, all three significant weakness were unsupported. A significant weakness under the phase-in transition plan element for failing to include “actions and responsibilities [of] non-supervisory personnel” was not reasonable or adequately documented. The protester’s proposal provided a detailed narrative that described a phase-in transition plan, and this plan appeared to meet the RFP’s minimum requirements. A significant weakness under the workforce management element for “no direct corporate oversight of on-site project managers indicating a lack of corporate control and accountability over site-specific issues” was inadequately documented. The government’s concerns did not appear in the evaluation record and only surfaced after the submission of the agency report and “in the heat of the adversarial process.” Finally, a significant weakness for failing to include a pest control work plan was unsupported, and during the protest proceedings, the government acknowledged that the protester’s proposal included the required work plan. The evaluation under the safety factor was also unreasonable. The Comptroller General recommended the government reevaluate the protester’s technical proposal, adequately document its evaluation findings, and make a new source selection decision. (Leumas Residential, LLC, 35 CGEN ¶116,876)
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