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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Best value trumped price for these lucrative FEMA contracts

The Government Accountability Office has upheld a trio of awards to Serco, Fluor and CH2M Hill to support the Federal Emergency management Agency across different regions of the country.

Dewberry Crawford Group and Partner 4 Recovery filed protests after they did not secure spots on the contracts for advisory and assistance services. They had challenged evaluations and the selection decisions.

FEMA initially awarded the "Public Assistance Technical Assistance Contracts IV" vehicle in January with awards broken out by geographic zones. The agency subsequently re-evaluated bids in a corrective action and affirmed the awards, which then spurred those protests.

After reading the trio of long GAO decisions, the pricing stands out in each and shows how the government applied a best-value criteria as opposed to just going for low price.

For example, Fluor’s bid was worth $610 million, which was about $111 million higher than Dewberry Crawford’s bill and $210 million higher than Partner 4 Recovery’s bid.

Fluor also scored “very good” for its technical and management approach, key personnel and quality control. It was the only bidder to win that high of a score in each. All the bidders received scores of “substantial confidence” for their past performance.

Fluor’s higher price was justified, according to FEMA, because it demonstrated in depth understanding of the requirements and it had key personnel experienced in Zone 1.

Zone 1 covers the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, D.C., Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Dewberry and Partner 4 Recovery couldn’t convince GAO that FEMA improperly evaluated their proposals or that the best value judgement was improper.

Though the gap wasn’t as large, Serco had a bid of $533.5 million compared to $501.5 million for Dewberry and $389.3 million for Partner 4 Recover. As with Fluor, Serco had the highest technical scores for its proposal.

In picking Serco, FEMA said that the company’s proposal represented the least risk, according to GAO.

In the case of the CH2M Hill bid, they actually came in below Dewberry’s bid of $501.6 million. CH2M Hill bid $477.9 million. But they were still substantially above Partner 4 Recovery’s bid of $399.5 million.

CH2M Hill’s technical score of "very good" was higher than the other two bidders.

GAO gives agencies a lot of discretion to make best value decisions especially if the agency can document its decision making, which FEMA apparently could.

For industry, there also is a lesson in understanding your customer and using that knowledge to shape your proposals. FEMA obviously isn’t afraid to pay a premium if you can prove you have the right proposal. And for them the right proposals means showing you understand the requirements and the work to be done.

That’s good information to have if you are chasing work at FEMA or any other agency.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Oct 01, 2018 at 12:22 PM

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