Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. (BAH), a business management consulting company challenged the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)’s award pf a blanket purchase agreement (BPA) for support services to transform the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) into a High Reliability Organization (HRO). BAH challenged the agency’s evaluation of the bidder’s quotations and its award decision in a General Accounting Office (GAO) protest.
The VA issued a solicitation for the BPA in July 2019 under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to vendors holding General Services Administration (GSA) Professional Services Schedule (PSS) contracts. The scope of work consisted of performance of onsite assessment diagnostics, provision of training and support of national HRO training initiatives, analysis of outcomes, and implementation plans. The work was to be performed in VA medical centers across the country. The solicitation required submission of past-performance information in proposals and included no restriction on identifying the past performance of an affiliate or subsidiary. The request for quotation (RFQ) indicated the agency would evaluate the price for reasonableness by assessing the reasonableness of the quoted labor rates and the weighted labor rates of the first call order.
Booz Allen Hamilton’s protest was based on the following:
- Challenging the VA’s evaluation of the awardees’ past performance, alleging that the VA improperly credited an awardee with the past performance of an affiliate;
- Challenging the VA’s evaluation of an awardee’s price quotation alleging that the evaluation was unreasonable, that the VA misevaluated the bidders’ total prices, and that the evaluation was not consistent with the solicitation requirements;
- Alleging that an awardee received an unfair competitive advantage based on hiring a current government employee for a key personnel position; and
- Challenging of the agency’s best-value decision, alleging that the protester’s bid was superior to the awardees’ bids.
Challenges to the Agency’s EvaluationBAH claimed the agency’s evaluation of bidder Cognosante was flawed. It claimed that the VA credited Cognosante for past performance of a recently purchased affiliate, although the quotation did not explain whether the affiliate would be meaningfully involved in performance of the contract. The agency, however, asserted that the VA could credit Cognosante for its affiliate’s past performance and the experience of the affiliate because the awardee acquired full ownership of the affiliate, and Cognosante’s bid showed that some of the affiliate’s prior management would be involved in the current BPA.
However, according to Matter of: Deloitte Consulting, LLP; Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc.; Calibre Sys., Inc., B-411884 (Nov. 16, 2015), agencies can attribute the experience or past performance of a parent or affiliated company to a vendor where the firm’s quote shows the resources the parent or affiliate will affect the performance of the vendor. The GAO noted there is nothing objectionable in attributing experience or past performance of related entities to the business entity entering into the contract when there is a significant nexus between the parent or affiliate and the contracting entity.