In three related bid protest decisions made public in the last few weeks, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reaffirmed the principle that agencies must meaningfully consider price when making best value tradeoff decisions.
GAO sustained the protests, stressing that merely paying lip service to price while selecting a more expensive, higher-rated offeror is not sufficient — agencies must provide a rational explanation for why they have decided to pay a premium for the awardee’s technical superiority.
In Solers, Inc., B-414672.3 et al.; Technatomy Corporation, B-414672.5; and OGSystems, LLC, B-414672.6 et al., three disappointed offerors challenged the Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA) award of Multiple Award Task Order contracts to 14 contractors as part of the Systems Engineering, Technology, and Innovation program.
The solicitation provided that DISA would make award on a best-value tradeoff basis considering price and four technical factors that, when combined, were significantly more important than price. The agency made award to the 14 highest rated proposals in the non-price factors, opining — without elaboration — that “the technical merit of those proposals justifies paying a price premium over lower-rated, lower-priced proposals.” Indeed, throughout the evaluation process, the agency repeatedly noted — again without elaboration — that the awardees’ proposals were worth a premium.