MetroStar Systems, Inc. protested an award of five indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for information technology support services. It asserted the DOJ conducted an unreasonable and unequal evaluation of offerorsâ€™ technical proposals, and a flawed best-value tradeoff determination.
DOJ issued the Request for Proposals (RFP) for support of its Information Technology Support Services-5 (ITSS-5) program. The agency anticipated awarding 15 contracts: six on an unrestricted basis and nine to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. The protest by MetroStar was for a contract on an unrestricted basis.
The solicitation indicated the DOJ would evaluate proposals in two phases. The technical and price proposals were evaluated in phase one. This phase would consider five technical subfactors: â€œcorporate experience, past performance, architectural attributes experience, management, and mandatory technical certifications.â€ The mandatory technical certification factor was evaluated based on whether the offeror had the required certification, International Standards Organization (ISO) 9001, and achieved or has a well-supported plan for achieving Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) Level 2 or 3. Corporate experience was deemed â€œsignificantly more importantâ€ than the other subfactors. Past performance and architectural attributes were equal in importance, but both were â€œsignificantly more importantâ€ than the management subfactor.
The highest rated offerors after phase one would be selected to submit a proposal for phase two. In phase two, proposals were to be evaluated for their technical proficiency and for their responses to two sample task order scenarios. Contracts would be awarded to offerors whose proposals determined the most advantageous. The RFP indicated the agencyâ€™s best-value tradeoff determination would consider each offerorâ€™s overall technical rating for phase one and its overall technical rating for phase two, with phase two rating â€œconsiderably more importantâ€ than phase one.
MetroStar challenged the DOJâ€™s evaluation and best-value tradeoff determination. It asserted the DOJ unreasonably and unequally evaluated the awardeesâ€™ proposals. It argued two of the awardees did not comply with a mandatory certification requirement. It stated unwarranted strengths were assigned to the awardeesâ€™ proposals and failed to credit MetroStarâ€™s proposal equally for features considered as strengths in the awardeesâ€™ proposals. It argued its proposal was assigned â€œseveral unwarranted weaknessesâ€ by failing to credit numerous strengths properly. It asserted the best-value tradeoff failed to compare proposals substantively and was flawed due to the agencyâ€™s evaluation errors.
MetroStar argued the proposals submitted by two awardees, SRA and BAH failed to comply with the solicitationâ€™s ISO 9001 certification requirement. It stated SRA and BAH did not provide this certification. It instead relied on certifications of affiliated entities. DOJ responded by stating the solicitation did not prohibit reliance of the iso 9001 certifications of affiliated entities and reasonable to use. GAO found the solicitation did not permit offerors to meet the ISO 9001 certification requirement that did not apply to the offeror. The RFP required the offeror to be the entity that â€œhas the required certification for ISO 9001.â€ The agency stated the offeror, not the subcontractor, must be ISO certified. BAH and SRA did not provide evidence they had ISO 9001 certifications at the time of the proposal submission. GAO noted both offerors provided certifications of their affiliated entities without explaining how they applied to their own quality management systems. DOA argued the offerors were â€œperfectly good ISO 9001 certifications, within the corporate family.â€ GAO found the evaluation record provided no support for DOAâ€™s conclusion.
Affiliate Past Performance and Corporate Experience
MetroStar argued DOJ improperly credited CACI with the corporate experience and past performance of its affiliates. Three past performance references submitted by CACI and two of its corporate experience references involved contracts performed by affiliates. Further, MetroStar stated CACIâ€™s proposal did not demonstrate any meaningful involvement by the affiliates. GAO noted an agency may attribute the experience or past performance of an affiliated company to an offeror where the firmâ€™s proposal shows the resources of the affiliate will affect the offerorâ€™s performance. DOA argued it reasonably credited CACI with the past performance and experience of its affiliates. It stated CACIâ€™s proposal indicated its affiliates would have â€œmeaningful involvementâ€ in the contract effort proposed by CACI. GAOâ€™s review of the record led to its conclusion CACIâ€™s proposal â€œdoes evidence the meaningful involvement of CACI-ISS, Inc., but does not evidence the meaningful involvement of the other two affiliates.â€ It found the agency reasonably credited the past performance and corporate experience.
GAO found CACIâ€™s proposal did not demonstrate the other two affiliates, CACI NSS Inc. and CACI Technology Insights, Inc., would be involved in the contract. It also noted the evaluation record had no indication DOJ considered this issue and failed to provide basis for crediting the CACI proposal with the experience and past performance of the two affiliates. GAO found DOJâ€™s assignment of experience and past performance unreasonable.
Unequal Phase Two Evaluation
MetroStar argued it received disparate treatment from the agencyâ€™s phase two evaluation. The DOJ conceded it unequally assigned two â€œmajor strengthsâ€ to awardeesâ€™ proposals, while only assigning MetroStarâ€™s proposal one strength, despite all four offerors proposed the same thing. It credited MetroStarâ€™s proposal with only one strength for â€œall proposed personnel having existing security clearances and available upon award.â€ DOJ acknowledged MetroStar should have received two â€œmajor strengthsâ€ instead of one. GAO agreed with this action.
DOJ argued its errors did not prejudice MetroStar because they would not have increased its overall technical rating. It also stated if some of the awardees had not received an award, the agency would have made fewer awards. GAO found no support for the agencyâ€™s position. It noted there was no indication what the agency would have done if there had been less offerors with overall ratings of â€œvery good.â€ Correcting the errors might have resulted in a â€œsubstantially different best-value tradeoffâ€ because the awardees might have received â€œsignificantly lower technical ratings or been eliminated from consideration altogether.â€ GAO concluded MetroStar established the â€œrequisite competitive prejudice to prevail in its bid protest.â€
GAO recommended the DOJ reevaluate proposals in a manner consistent with the terms of the solicitation. It also recommended MetroStar be reimbursed its reasonable costs of filing and pursuing its protest