Update: Protest of $10M NOAA IT Support Services IDIQ award sustained

Updated January 10, 2020

“DIGEST

Protest challenging the agency’s award decision is sustained where the awardee’s proposal did not provide a letter of commitment for an individual proposed for a key personnel position, as required by the solicitation, and thus failed to satisfy a material solicitation requirement.”

“BACKGROUND

The agency issued the solicitation on May 23, 2019, as a set‑aside for participants in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program.  RFP at 1; Contracting Officer’s Statement (COS) at 2. The solicitation used acquisition procedures under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) part 12, Acquisition of Commercial Items, in conjunction with FAR part 15, Contracting by Negotiation.  RFP at 37; COS at 2.  The successful offeror will program new and existing electronic reporting systems, develop fisheries management applications, and provide associated technical support for NMFS’s four major programs.  RFP at 43‑44.  The RFP contemplated the award of a single indefinite‑delivery, indefinite‑quantity (IDIQ) contract, with the potential for labor hour or fixed‑price type orders and an ordering period of three years.  Id. at 18, 72.

The solicitation provided for award on a best-value tradeoff basis, with non‑price evaluation factors (technical capability, staffing and management plan, and past performance) significantly more important than price.  Id. at 69.  Among the non‑price factors, technical capability and staffing and management plan were approximately equal, and together, they were more important than past performance.  Id. …”

“DISCUSSION

ITO alleges that ARJV made a material misrepresentation in its proposal by offering an individual as one of its key personnel who was not available.  Protest at 7‑8; Comments & Suppl. Protest at 2‑8.  The protester also argues ARJV’s proposal failed to comply with the solicitation’s requirements and should have been deemed unacceptable because it did not include a letter of commitment for this individual.  Comments & Suppl. Protest at 9; Protester’s Suppl. Comments at 10.  The protester further contends that NOAA did not reasonably evaluate its and ARJV’s proposals under all three non‑price factors, and, therefore, NOAA’s award decision was unreasonable.  Protest 8‑13; Comments & Suppl. Protest at 9‑16; Protester’s Suppl. Comments at 9‑12.

For the reasons below, on this record, we do not find that ARJV made a material misrepresentation about its key personnel.  We do find, however, that since the proposal did not include a letter of commitment from this individual, ARJV’s proposal failed to comply with a material solicitation requirement, and the award was improper.  We sustain the protest on this basis.

Material Misrepresentation

The record here shows that Ahtna Global, LLC (AG), one of the joint venture partners in ARJV, executed a teaming agreement in March 2019 with a company owned by the individual proposed by ARJV for the key position of Systems Administrator 5/Database Administrator 5 (hereinafter, the SA 5 position).  A copy of the teaming agreement was included in ARJV’s proposal.  AR, Tab 14, ARJV Technical Proposal, at 46‑60.  On June 6, prior to the deadline for proposals, however, the individual offered for the SA 5 position informed AG that he no longer wanted to be part of the proposal team.  He also sent an email stating “neither [his company] nor [he] would participate in the newly composed Ahtna RDI Joint Venture.”  Comments & Suppl. Protest exh. A at 1, 4. …”

“DECISION

IT Objects, LLC (ITO), a small business concern located in Herndon, Virginia, protests the award of a contract to Ahtna RDI, JV, LLC (ARJV), a small business located in Anchorage, Alaska, under request for proposals (RFP) No. 1305M319RNFFS0008, issued by the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), for information technology services including software development and systems administration, for the Alaska Region of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).  The protester alleges that the awardee materially misrepresented the availability of key personnel in its proposal.  The protester also argues that the awardee’s proposal failed to comply with the solicitation’s requirements, and that the agency’s evaluation of proposals was unreasonable and inconsistent with the terms of the solicitation.

We sustain the protest.”

Access the full 7-page decision here.


Updated January 8, 2020

G2X TAKE: A protest levied by IT Objects related to this 3-year National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration requirement for fisheries database management and software engineering, system administration and help desk support services to the Alaska Region, awarded to Ahtna RDI JV, a  new Alaskan Native Corporation 8(a) small business only formed in June of this year, has been sustained.

No details are available as to the grounds for the protest, any next steps, nor the reason for the decision but they will be shared here as they are made available.

Details on the award and the solicitation are available in the thread below.


Posted October 3, 2019

G2X TAKE: A formal protest has been levied by IT Objects, LLC in relation to this 3-year National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration requirement for fisheries database management and software engineering, system administration and help desk support services to the Alaska Region. The IDIQ contract was awarded last month to Ahtna RDI JV, a  new Alaskan Native Corporation 8(a) small business only formed in June of this year. 

No details are known as to the reason for the protest. A decision by GAO is expected no later than January 2, of 2020. More will be shared as it is made available. 

Take Bytes

  • Tim Finnigan is the President for Ahtna Engineering Services and Managing Member of the Ahtna RDI JV.
  • Scope – The Department of Commerce (DOC), National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Alaska Region Office, is a pioneer in quota-based fisheries management programs, which allocate total allowable catch to vessels, groups of cooperating vessels or catch privileges to individuals. The backbone of these management programs are sophisticated reporting and catch accounting systems that operate in near real time and support multiple fisheries occurring simultaneously.
  • These programs require support that will include programming of new and existing electronic. All services provided through this contract shall be provided in accordance with NMFS standards and integrate seamlessly with the existing fishery management systems. The services will be thoroughly integrated with each NMFS sub organization and that organization’s business processes. Support will need to be flexible in order to respond rapidly to changing priorities reporting systems, development of fisheries management applications, and associated technical support.
  • These tasks involve: Fisheries database management and software engineering; System Administration and Help Desk Support; Improvement and Maintenance to Database Systems; Applications Development Support for Operation & Maintenance of existing fisheries systems; and Infrastructure Support in Juneau and Anchorage. The solicitation documents are available here.
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