In a recent case, the Army got dinged in the Court of Federal Claims (COFC) despite – indeed, because of – the agency’s efforts to correct a problematic procurement.
58 offerors bid for the Army’s recompete of its Army Desktop Mobile and Computing contract vehicle, but only 9 proposals were deemed technically acceptable. When 21 of the disqualified bidders protested, the Army took “corrective action.” It reopened the competition, allowing all offerors to submit revised proposals and new prices. But the COFC found that the proposed corrective measure was overbroad. The court’s ruling demonstrates that agencies need to tailor corrective action to procurement’s unique problems.
When the Army sought proposals for a series of IDIQ contracts covering desktop computer computers, notebooks, tablets, printers, and beyond, offerors were to be assessed based on three factors. Those three factors were past performance, technical acceptability, and price. Offerors were required to demonstrate technical acceptability, the primary evaluative criteria, by filling out spreadsheet forms in the RFP.
The Call for Corrective Action
With 58 offerors competing, you would expect many proposals would be deemed acceptable, and that price would then become the primary determinative factor. But out of all the proposals submitted, only 9 were deemed technically acceptable, and all 9 contractors with technically acceptable proposals were given contract awards. It’s no surprise that 21 disappointed offerors filed protests at GAO. The protestors felt that they had technically acceptable items, but were thwarted by confusing aspects of the required spreadsheets, and had made honest mistakes in filling them out. Those who had guessed correctly how to tackle the ambiguous spreadsheets were rewarded, and those who’d guessed incorrectly lost out.
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