Resignation kills URS bid for Navy contract
The fact that agencies have wide latitude in how they evaluate proposals is on stark display in a recent bid protest decision.
URS Federal Services filed a protest that SimVentions won a $37.8 million contract for engineering and technical services for the Naval Sea Systems Command.
The Navy had scored portions of URS’s proposal as unacceptable- particularly its workforce plan.
The solicitation required resumes for eight key personnel that would work on the project. And where URS ran aground with the Navy was that one of its key personnel left the company after the proposal was submitted but before an award was made.
In cases like this, the agency has two choices – it can open discussions with the bidders to address the problem, or it can evaluate the proposal as is and find it unacceptable. The Navy did the latter, killing URS’s chances of winning the contract.
Government Accountability Office ruled that it was within the Navy’s discretion to not open discussions as GAO has held in earlier decisions.
“An agency’s discretion to hold discussions is quite broad and is generally not reviewed by this Office,” GAO wrote in its decision.
GAO also rejected URS’s claim that replacing the person would be a minor administrative task. Here, GAO pointed to the solicitation that changes in personnel required the contracting officer’s approval.
It seems the more reasonable action would have been to allow URS to replace the person who left the company and then continue on with the evaluation. Just shutting URS out seems to be a disservice to the government. Why not let them make the change and fully vet both proposals? What's the downside? A delay? You should be used to that.
SimVentions very well may have still won. It received outstanding scores for its non-price factors, so they had a very good proposal.
But the way it is now, we’ll never really know if URS was even close.
I’m not sure if there is any lesson here for bidders other than a warning. URS didn’t try to pull a bait and switch and get caught. A person resigned and that is something companies have very little control over.
Posted by Nick Wakeman on Aug 04, 2016 at 9:27 AM