By Government Contracts Editorial Staff
A protest of a contract award for fuel transportation services was sustained because the technical and past performance evaluations were unreasonable. The request for proposals called for the delivery of fuel by tug and barge between ports on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Offerors were required to propose several vessels that met various requirements, including a “tank-barge” and an “on-call” barge with capacities between 10,000 and 20,000 barrels. Offerors also had to prove ownership or control of their proposed vessels. The awardee’s technical narrative proposal stated that its “on-call” barge had a capacity of 19,465 barrels, but the Coast Guard certificate the awardee used to prove ownership stated the barge had a capacity of 22,600 barrels. Despite this discrepancy, the government found that all of the awardee’s vessels complied with the RFP’s capacity requirements.
Conflict Never Resolved. The Comptroller General explained the government had direct evidence on the face of the awardee’s proposal that one of the awardee’s vessels exceeded the RFP’s capacity limitations. However. the contemporaneous record was silent as to how the government viewed the conflict between the awardee’s proposal narrative and the Coast Guard documentation. A reasonable review of the documentation—a required component of the technical proposal—should have created doubt as to the “on-call” barge’s compliance with the capacity requirement, and the government did not explain why the capacity information in the Coast Guard documentation would be inaccurate, or otherwise unreliable, for the purposes of addressing the discrepancy. The government’s failure to recognize information on the face of the awardee’s proposal that contradicted the awardee’s assertions of compliance was unreasonable.
Improper Attribution. Further, the evaluators improperly credited the awardee with the past performance of its subsidiaries. In its past performance questionnaires, the awardee identified itself as the entity that performed the referenced contracts, and the evaluators ultimately assigned the awardee a past performance rating of “satisfactory confidence.” However, all of the awardee’s proposed vessels were owned and operated by personnel from the awardee’s subsidiaries, and the awardee’s past performance proposal did not explain the roles of the subsidiaries on the contracts detailed in the PPQs. Absent a clearer indication of which subsidiaries contributed to the referenced efforts, the government could not explain how the performance described in the PPQs bore on the likelihood of success here. Prior decisions have concluded that ownership is not sufficient to show that the past performance an affiliated company can be attributed to an offeror. The Comptroller General recommended the government reevaluate proposals, properly document the reevaluation, and make a new source selection decision. (Vane Line Bunkering, Inc., 34 CGEN ¶116,630)
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