After learning that it was not chosen for award, Citizant filed a bid protest at the COFC challenging GSA’s evaluation of over 20 awardees based on two principal arguments: (1) the offerors failed to substantiate their claimed points for their cost accounting systems (“CAS”); and (2) the offerors submitted inadequate pricing information and the contracting officer’s evaluation was flawed. By way of background, the solicitation required offerors to submit a Self Scoring Worksheet claiming points for meeting various solicitation criteria and submit documentation supporting the claimed points, including for each offeror’s CAS points. As for price proposals, offerors were required to submit a cost/price template and a basis of estimate. During its evaluation, GSA was to review the documentation validating the claimed points, determine the 80 highest scored proposals, and then evaluate those proposals for fair and reasonable pricing.
In its bid protest, Citizant argued that a number of offerors failed to provide adequate documentation verifying their CAS was audited. In response, GSA argued that its reliance upon letters from the Defense Contract Audit Agency (“DCAA”) was reasonable. The COFC agreed with Citizant and held that GSA’s reliance upon the DCAA letters was irrational because the letters failed to demonstrate that the offerors possessed an adequate, audited CAS, as the solicitation required. The COFC also noted that the contracting officer failed to review whether a number of offerors included necessary representations in their proposals regarding their CAS, as required by the solicitation. Ultimately, the COFC found that GSA’s evaluation of the offerors’ proposals for their CAS points was unreasonable.
Next, the COFC also agreed with Citizant’s arguments that GSA conducted an unreasonable price evaluation. The COFC flagged a number of issues, including the inconsistency of the price evaluation, the failure to justify the use of some offerors’ CLIN rates when establishing averages and a Deviation Range, and failing to provide a rational explanation for establishing its Deviation Range when determining whether prices were fair and reasonable.
Taking these procurement errors together, the COFC found that these actions were prejudicial to Citizant and granted its motion for a permanent injunction. As such, the COFC enjoined GSA from moving forward with its list of awardees and directed GSA to reevaluate proposals in light of its decision. Notably, based on the errors, the COFC stated that at least some offerors were substantially likely to be removed from the list of awardees because they would lose their claimed CAS points.
As noted above, following the COFC’s ruling, GSA took corrective action, which placed the procurement back in a pre-award status. According to its recent notice, GSA will continue evaluating proposals and re-issue awards at an unknown date in the future. GSA’s notice also indicated that offerors should keep a lookout for other updates and noted that questions could be directed to [email protected].
About the Author: Tim Valley is an associate with PilieroMazza in the Government Contracting and Litigation Law groups. He may be reached at [email protected].