Protest of DOI award for Data Comms and Associated IT and Equipment denied in part and dismissed in part

“DIGEST

  1. Protester’s challenge to the agency’s evaluation of assumptions made in the awardee’s price proposal is denied because the awardee’s assumptions do not take material exception to the solicitation’s requirements.
  2. Protester’s challenges to its own evaluation, the agency’s conduct of discussions, and the agency’s best-value tradeoff are dismissed because at the time of award the protester’s underlying indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contract did not include all of the services required by the solicitation.”

“BACKGROUND

The agency issued the RFP on January 25, 2019, under the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) multiple-award indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) government-wide acquisition contract using the procedures of Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) subpart 16.5.  Agency Report (AR), Tab 5, RFP Standard Form 33.  The agency divided its requirements into two task areas, each of which would be evaluated separately and could be awarded separately to different EIS IDIQ contract holders or could be awarded together to the same EIS IDIQ contract holder.  Id.; AR, Tab 40, RFP, at 147.

Task Area 1 was for managed core network services, requiring the successful contractor to “provide the necessary services to design, engineer, build, secure, operate and maintain the [DOI’s] enterprise network.”  RFP at 41.  Further, the successful contractor would provide service-related equipment (SRE) to support software defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) capability; virtual private network service; private line service; and other EIS services needed to transport DOI’s private, internal, enterprise network, including provision of external network-to-network interfaces to connect the agency’s data services to external resources.  Id.  Task Area 2 was for managed access services, requiring the successful contractor to “provide [internet protocol services] and commercial fixed satellite services to connect to the enterprise core network.”  Id.

The solicitation contemplated issuance of one or more time-and-materials task order(s) with a base period from the date of award to March 31, 2021, followed by ten 1-year option periods, and a final 16-month option period.  Id. at 98.  The solicitation advised offerors that the agency intended to make award in fiscal year 2019 (i.e., before September 30, 2019), as transitioning from the existing contracts for the solicited services needed to occur by May 2020.  AR, Tab 24, RFP Modification No. 3, Questions and Answers, at Q&A No. 78…”

“DISCUSSION

Verizon’s arguments primarily concern its own proposals–it challenges multiple aspects of the agency’s evaluation of its own proposals, the agency’s conduct of its discussions, and argues that the flawed evaluation of its proposals led to an unreasonable best-value tradeoff decision.  Verizon challenges a single aspect of the agency’s evaluation of CenturyLink’s proposals–the evaluation of price assumptions included in CenturyLink’s price proposal for Task Area 1.[4]  For the reasons discussed below, we deny Verizon’s challenge to the agency’s evaluation of CenturyLink’s price assumptions.  Because we find no reason to sustain the protest challenging the awardee’s technical acceptability, and because at the time of award the protester’s underlying EIS IDIQ contract did not include all of the services required by the solicitation, we need not reach the protester’s arguments concerning its own proposals.

Awardee’s Price Assumptions

Verizon argues that the agency failed to evaluate the assumptions submitted with CenturyLink’s price proposal for Task Area 1, and that five of CenturyLink’s assumptions constitute exceptions to material terms of the solicitation.  Protester’s Comments and Second Supp. Protest at 2, 13-16.  In negotiated procurements, any proposal that fails to conform to material terms and conditions of the solicitation should be considered unacceptable and may not form the basis for an award.  Rel-Tek Sys. & Design, Inc., B-280463.3, Nov. 25, 1998, 99-1 CPD ¶ 2 at 3.  Our review of the record finds that the agency reasonably concluded that none of CenturyLink’s challenged assumptions took exception to a material requirement of the solicitation…”

“DECISION

Verizon Business Network Services, Inc., of Ashburn, Virginia, protests the issuance of a task order to Qwest Government Services, Inc., d/b/a CenturyLink QGS, of Arlington, Virginia, under task order request for proposals (RFP) No. 140D04-19-R-0002, issued by the Department of the Interior (DOI) for data communications and associated information technology services and equipment.  The protester challenges the agency’s evaluation of its own proposals under the technical, past performance, and price factors; the agency’s conduct of discussions; the agency’s evaluation of assumptions made in one of the awardee’s price proposals; and the agency’s best-value tradeoff.

We deny the protest in part and dismiss it in part.”

Access the full 9-page decision here.

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