By Government Contracts Editorial Staff
A protest of a contract award for crisis management center support was sustained because the price realism analysis and source selection decision were unreasonable. The request for proposals required offerors to provide fixed labor rates and identify the labor categories needed to perform the work. Price proposals were to be evaluated to determine the reasonableness of proposed prices and to “assess realism and probable cost” to the government. After noting the awardee submitted the second-lowest priced proposal and the lowest-priced proposal of the three proposals rated exceptional, the source selection authority concluded the awardee’s proposal represented the best value to the government. The SSA also stated the protester and the awardee “scored equally well technically” but since the protester’s price was 10 percent higher, its proposal did not represent the best value. In response to the protester’s challenge to the price realism analysis, the government maintained that it performed a detailed evaluation of the awardee’s labor rates, categories, and fees, and that the technical evaluation panel report clearly documented its assessment that the awardee understood the requirements and could perform the work.
Record Insufficient. The Comptroller General explained that “[the government’s] assessment of price realism requires a consideration of the offeror’s technical approach.” Here, however, the contemporaneous record did not document an assessment of the awardee’s proposed pricing in conjunction with its technical approach. The record showed the government was aware of the awardee’s low price, but the record also suggested that the government was only concerned with whether the awardee’s price was reasonable, i.e., whether it was too high. Moreover, while the government may conclude proposals are technically equal, the selection official must explain the basis for such a finding. In this case, the government assigned several strengths to the protester’s and the awardee’s proposals, but the record did not show that the SSA meaningfully looked behind the adjectival ratings or considered the qualitative value of the proposals in determining the two proposals were technically equal. The Comptroller General recommended the government perform and document a price realism evaluation, as well as a new source selection decision. (Apogee Engineering, LLC, 34 CGEN ¶116,307).
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