||June 10, 2002
Thomas S. Kornegay for the protester.
Maj. Michael L. Norris, and Capt. Charles T.
Kirchmaier, Department of the Army, for the agency.
Guy R. Pietrovito, Esq., and James A. Spangenberg,
Esq., Office of the General Counsel, GAO, participated in the preparation of the
Under a negotiated procurement, which provided for award on the basis of a
cost/technical tradeoff, selection of the higher-rated, higher-priced proposal
was reasonable where the agency reasonably determined, consistent with the
evaluation criteria, that the technical superiority of the awardee's proposal
outweighed the price advantage offered by the protester's proposal.
TeKONTROL, Inc. protests the award of a fixed-price contract to Global Services
Corporation under request for proposals (RFP) No. USZA92-01-R-0002, issued by
the Department of the Army for medical instruction and support services for the
U.S. Army Special Operations Command. TeKONTROL complains that award to
Global does not reflect the best value to the government, given TeKONTROL's
significantly lower price.
We deny the protest.
The RFP contained a detailed statement of work,
which among other things identified the required contract personnel and their
qualifications. For example, for the Special Operations Force Medical
Skills Sustainment Program, offerors were informed that they must propose eight
instructors, including a senior instructor and assistant senior instructor.
Specific experience, qualifications, and certifications were required for
each instructor. For example, the instructors were required to have
specific experience as a special operations forces medic. With respect to
the senior instructor, the RFP required, among other things, more than 5 years
of experience as an instructor in the emergency medical field and a pediatric
advanced life support instructor (PALS-1) certification. For the Special
Operations Command Medic/Special Forces Medic Sergeant Course, the RFP required
four advanced medical instructors, at least three of which were required to have
served on active military duty and two of which had special operations forces
The RFP provided for award on the basis of a cost/technical tradeoff.
Offerors were informed that, after determining the technical acceptability and
price reasonableness of an offer, the agency would compare offerors' capability
against their proposed prices. The RFP provided that the following
evaluation factors would be used to assess an offeror's capability:
||“The Government will
evaluate each offeror's organizational experience on the basis of its
breadth, its depth, and its relevance to the work that will be required
[by] the prospective contract. . . . The Government
will evaluate Key Personnel for compliance with the requirements [of]
||“Past performance is a
measure of the degree, to which an offeror satisfied its customers in
the past and complied with Federal, state, and local laws and
regulations. . . .”
|Understanding the Government's
||“The [G]overnment will
evaluate each offeror's relative understanding of the Government's
requirements on the basis of [the offeror's] oral presentation. . . .”
|Compliance with Instructions
||“In evaluating an offeror's
capability to perform the prospective contract, the Government will
consider how well the offeror complied with the instructions in this
RFP. . . .”
Offerors were informed that the technical evaluation factors were more important
Instructions were provided for the preparation of technical and price proposals
and conduct of the oral presentation. As relevant here, the RFP required
offerors to provide resumes for key personnel, including the senior instructor,
assistant senior instructor, and “a sample (3) instructors” for the Special
Operations Force Medical Skills Sustainment Program and one advanced medical
instructor for the Special Operations Command Medic/Special Forces Medic
The agency received three proposals in response to the RFP, including those of
Global and TeKONTROL, both of which were found to be technically acceptable.
In addition, each offeror made an oral presentation to demonstrate their
knowledge of the contract requirements. Following evaluation of initial
proposals and oral presentations, discussions were conducted, and revised
proposals received. Global's and TeKONTROL's revised proposals were
evaluated as follows:
|Understanding the Government's
|Compliance with Instructions
Agency Report, Tab 13, Final Evaluation Report, at 4.
Global's outstanding, low risk proposal rating reflected the agency's judgment
that Global had submitted a technically superior proposal that demonstrated the
firm's clear understanding of the contract requirements and established through
the firm's past projects that Global could “handle projects of this scope,
nature, and complexity.” Id. at 1. In particular, the
agency's evaluators found that Global proposed key personnel that satisfied all
the RFP requirements and had experience with projects of similar scope and
complexity. Id. at 3.
TeKONTROL's lower proposal rating reflected the evaluators' judgment that,
although TeKONTROL's proposal was acceptable and the firm was capable, TeKONTROL
had only a “50/50 chance of success” in performing the contract. Id. at 1.
With respect to its organizational experience, TeKONTROL's proposal was rated
marginal because the firm's proposal indicated only “minimal organizational
experience with projects of a similar nature, specifically medical training”
and because a number of TeKONTROL'S proposed key personnel did not satisfy
minimum qualification requirements. For example, the protester's
proposed senior instructor did not establish that he had the required PALS-I
certification and the protester's proposed assistant senior instructor, sample
instructor, and advanced medical instructor did not have, among other things,
the required special operations forces experience. Id. at 1-2.
The evaluators recommended award to Global as the best value to the government.
Specifically, the evaluators found that Global had submitted the highest-rated
proposal at a competitive price, while TeKONTROL had submitted the lowest-rated
proposal, albeit at the lowest price. The evaluators believed that the
“significantly superior difference in technical capability indicated in
Global's proposal warrants the additional price.” Id. at 5.
After review of the evaluation reports and prices, the source selection
authority (SSA) agreed with the agency's evaluators that Global's proposal
reflected the best value to the government. Specifically, the SSA noted
that the RFP provided for award on the basis of a cost/technical tradeoff and
that the solicitation had stated that, if one offeror had better capability at a
higher price, the SSA would determine whether the difference in capability was
worth the price premium. Here, the SSA noted that Global's proposal
represented a lower risk than did TeKONTROL's, particularly in the area of
organizational experience and key personnel. The SSA found that, although
Global's key personnel were fully compliant with the solicitation requirements,
TeKONTROL had failed to propose personnel satisfying the RFP requirements or to
demonstrate the means to acquire qualified personnel. Moreover, the SSA
noted that, although TeKONTROL had stated in its proposal the intention to hire
“incumbents,” the firm stated no plan to satisfy the RFP requirements in the
event the firm could not hire the incumbent personnel. Agency Report, Tab
14, Source Selection Decision Document.
Award was made to Global, and TeKONTROL filed an agency-level protest.
Following the denial of the agency-level protest, TeKONTROL protested to our
TeKONTROL complains that, because its proposal was determined to be technically
acceptable and is lower-priced than Global's proposal, TeKONTROL's proposal
should have been selected for award. In this regard, TeKONTROL states
that, in its “opinion, significant differences between Global and [TeKONTROL],
to justify an award for a price that exceeds over $479,000 per contract year
do not exist.” Protest at 6. TeKONTROL also objects that the
agency did not quantify the technical differences between the firms' proposals.
Protester's Comments at 1.
In reviewing protests of alleged improper evaluations and source selection
decisions, our Office examines the record to determine only whether the agency's
judgment was reasonable and in accord with the stated evaluation criteria and
applicable procurement law. Abt Assocs., Inc., B-237060.2, Feb. 26,
1990, 90-1 CPD ¶ 223 at 4. Such judgments are by their nature often
subjective; nevertheless, the exercise of these judgments in the evaluation of
proposals must be reasonable and must bear a rational relationship to the
announced criteria upon which competing offers are to be selected. Southwest
Marine, Inc.; American Sys. Eng'g Corp., B-265865.3, B‑265865.4, Jan.
23, 1996, 96-1 CPD ¶ 56 at 10. Award may be made to a firm that submitted
a higher-rated, higher-cost proposal where the decision is consistent with the
evaluation criteria and the agency reasonably determines that the technical
superiority of the higher-priced offer outweighs the cost difference. National
Toxicology Labs., Inc., B-281074.2, Jan. 11, 1999, 99‑1 CPD ¶ 5 at 7.
However, contrary to the protester's argument, there is no requirement that a
selection official, in performing a cost/technical tradeoff, quantify, or
“dollarize” by calculating a precise value, the technical advantages
offered. See KRA Corp., B‑278904, B-278904.5, Apr. 2,
1998, 98-1 CPD ¶147 at 14.
The record shows that the SSA recognized that TeKONTROL had offered a lower
price than did Global but concluded that Global's proposal represented a lower
risk to the government than did TeKONTROL's proposal. Contrary to the
protester's arguments, there were significant evaluated differences in the
protester's and awardee's proposals, supporting the respective proposal ratings.
That is, as explained above, the agency found that Global demonstrated relevant
organizational experience and proposed key personnel that satisfied the
solicitation requirements, and that TeKONTROL had only minimal organizational
experience and proposed a number of key personnel that did not satisfy the
solicitation requirements. TeKONTROL does not effectively challenge, and
we find reasonable, the agency's evaluation conclusions in this respect.
Although TeKONTROL complains that it has diverse corporate experience and
intended to provide personnel that would satisfy the solicitation requirements,
the protester admits that it has not had a contract to provide medical
instructors, see Protest at 3, and that its proposed senior instructor,
assistant senior instructor, sample instructor, and sample advanced medical
instructor did not satisfy all of the solicitation requirements.
See Protester's Comments at 2. Moreover, TeKONTROL admits that
although it stated in its proposal its desire to hire incumbent personnel, it
had been unable to obtain resumes from any of the incumbent personnel. Id.
at 3. Based on the record, we think that the SSA reasonably concluded
that, weighing these discriminators, TeKONTROL's price advantage did not
outweigh Global's technical superiority. This judgment is consistent with
the evaluation criteria which provided for a cost/technical tradeoff and stated
that technical merit was more important than price.
The protest is denied.
Anthony H. Gamboa
 An outstanding proposal was one
that exceeded minimum requirements and was very low or no risk to the
government; an acceptable proposal met requirements and posed moderate risk; a
satisfactory proposal indicated that the contractor was capable but posed a
“50/50 chance of success/failure”; and a marginal proposal indicated that
the contractor was “somewhat capable” but moderately high risk. Agency
Report, Tab 3, Source Selection Plan at 8-9.
 The Final Evaluation Report states that the majority of
TeKONTROL's proposed key personnel do not satisfy RFP requirements, although the
report identifies only four such personnel.
 TeKONTROL complains that some of the personnel requirements are
not necessary for successful performance of the contract. Protester's
Comments at 2. This post‑award objection to the solicitation
requirements is an untimely protest of an alleged apparent solicitation
impropriety. Our Bid Protest Regulations require that protests of alleged
apparent solicitation improprieties be filed prior to the time set for receipt
of initial proposals. 4 C.F.R. § 21.2(a)(1) (2002).