Strengths Assigned in Irrational and Unequal Manner

A protest of an evaluation of proposals for a border enforcement sensor system was sustained because the evaluation lacked a rational basis and was based on unequal treatment. The technical evaluation team assigned exceptional strengths to the awardee’s proposal under operational utility and technical subfactors for its standard resolution camera that contained a digital enhancement feature. The TET also assigned an exceptional strength to the protester’s proposal under the same technical subfactor for its high-resolution camera, but the TET did not recognize any of the protester’s proposed image enhancement techniques under the technical factor, and it did not credit the protester with any strengths for its camera under the operational utility factor. Then, in comparing the proposals, the source selection authority cited digital image enhancement as a distinguishing feature of the awardee’s proposal. The SSA found the protester submitted “a good and strong proposal,” but that the increased operational capability created by the awardee’s system made its proposal the better value, even with its price premium.

No Reasonable Explanation

The Comptroller General found no reasonable basis to discriminate between the proposals on the basis of enhanced image quality. The record did not contain any reasonable explanation as to why the awardee’s standard-resolution camera was assigned a unique strength under the operational utility factor for enhancement to image quality, while the protester’s high-resolution camera with image enhancement features was not. Further, although the protester was assigned a unique strength under the technical factor, the awardee also received a unique strength for enhancement to image quality. Given that the protester offered a higher-resolution camera with image enhancement capabilities, there was no explanation why the awardee received a unique strength for image quality enhancement, and there was no reasonable explanation why the awardee’s enhanced digital image capability stood as a discriminator.

More Errors

There were two other errors in the evaluation and selection decision. First, the SSA cited the awardee’s “clutter reduction” as another discriminator in the tradeoff decision, but there was no clear support for the discriminator in the record. Second, the government attributed the past performance of an affiliated company to the awardee, and there was no evidence the affiliate would have any meaningful involvement in contract performance. The three errors, when combined, prejudiced the protester. The Comptroller General recommended the government reevaluate the proposals and make a new source selection decision. ( Raytheon Co.29 CGEN ¶114,458)

Comptroller General decisions appear in this Report at 29 CGEN ¶114,457—¶114,462. Other highlights include the following:

Evaluation scheme. The Comptroller General sustained a protest of the evaluation of a proposal for architect/engineering services because the government evaluated the proposal using unstated evaluation factors. The evaluators assessed weaknesses using criteria that offerors could not have reasonably known to address in their proposals. ( Risk Analysis and Mitigation Partners29 CGEN ¶114,457)

Price and cost. A price evaluation was flawed because the government did not conduct a price realism analysis of the proposed labor rates, as required by the request for quotations for information system security support. The Comptroller General sustained the protest, finding the RFQ clearly advised vendors the evaluation would include a realism assessment of proposed “time and materials,” which included proposed labor rates. ( Iron Vine Security, LLC29 CGEN ¶114,460)

Other Comptroller General decisions in this Report include rulings in the following areas: Small business ( Azimuth, Inc.29 CGEN ¶114,462); Selection of contractor ( Cajun Constructors, Inc.29 CGEN ¶114,461 ; Enterprise Solutions Realized, Inc., et al.29 CGEN ¶114,459)