Government Contracts Rejection of Quotation Was Based on Unreasonable Reading of RFQ
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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Rejection of Quotation Was Based on Unreasonable Reading of RFQ

By Government Contracts Editorial Staff

A protest of a task order award for the lease and maintenance of copier devices was sustained because the government improperly concluded the protester’s quotation was technically unacceptable. The request for quotations’ “scanning to the cloud” requirement stated “[t]he ability to deliver output, securely and encrypted, to one or more endpoints … in the Microsoft Azure Cloud or Azure Government Cloud is highly desirable.” The technical evaluation board concluded scanning to the cloud was a required capability and the protester’s failure to provide pricing information for this feature rendered the protester’s quotation technically unacceptable. The protester contended the evaluation was unreasonable and inconsistent with the RFQ’s evaluation criteria.

Plain Language. The Comptroller General found the government’s interpretation of the RFQ was unreasonable. The RFQ’s plain language stated the ability to deliver output in the cloud was “highly desirable.” According to a common dictionary definition, “desirable” refers to “having pleasing qualities or properties,” or “worth seeking or doing as advantageous, beneficial, or wise.” Thus, on its face, the RFQ did not impose a requirement to provide a scanning to the cloud capability. The context of the provision also undercut the government’s interpretation. The RFQ’s statement of work used the terms “shall” or “must” dozens of times to describe functions that were mandatory requirements, and these clearly compulsory words reasonably indicated that a function described as desirable was merely precatory. Finally, contrary to the government’s contention, the Q&A did not clarify that the scanning to the cloud was a required capability. The Comptroller General recommended the government reevaluate the quotations and make a new source selection decision, or amend the RFQ to clarify the specification. (Lioce Group, 34 CGEN ¶116,296).

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