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Comptroller General of the United States United States Government Accountability Office Washington, DC 20548 DOCUMENT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE The decision issued on the date below was subject to a GAO Protective Order. This redacted version has been approved for public release. Decision Matter of: File: Date: Sherrick Aerospace B-310359.2 January 10, 2008 Gary L. Rigney, Esq., Gary L. Rigney Law Office, for the protester. Michael A. Hordell, Esq., Sean P. Bamford, Esq., and Heather Kilgore Weiner,
    Comptroller General   United States Government Accountability Office Washington, DC 20548of the United StatesDOCUMENT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE The decision issued on the date below was subject to aGAO Protective Order. This redacted version has beenapproved for public release. Decision Matter of: Sherrick Aerospace File: B-310359.2 Date: January 10, 2008Gary L. Rigney, Esq., Gary L. Rigney Law Office, for the protester.Michael A. Hordell, Esq., Sean P. Bamford, Esq., and Heather Kilgore Weiner, Esq.,Pepper Hamilton LLP for Sierra Lobo, Inc., an intervenor.Brian E. Toland, Esq., and Bruce D. Ensor, Esq. Department of the Army, for theagency. Jonathan L. Kang, Esq., and Ralph O. White, Esq., Office of the General Counsel,GAO, participated in the preparation of the decision. DIGEST 1. Protest challenging evaluation of offerors’ proposals is denied where the recordsupports the reasonableness of the agency’s evaluations and source selectiondecision.2. Agency’s consideration of past performance in its assessment of proposals undera business management evaluation subfactor did not result in prejudice where therecord shows that the balance of agency’s award rationale still favored the awardee.3. Protest challenging evaluation of awardee’s past performance is denied whereagency reasonably considered the past performance of the awardee’s proposedsubcontractor. DECISION Sherrick Aerospace protests the award of a contract to Sierra Lobo, Inc. underrequest for proposals (RFP) No. W31P4Q-06-R-006, issued by the Department of the Army, Army Material Command, for test planning, evaluation and documentation.The protester argues that the agency improperly evaluated offerors’ technical proposals and past performance.We deny the protest.  BACKGROUNDThe RFP sought test planning and evaluation support services for missile systems,subsystems and components at the United States Army Developmental TestCommand, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, including test plans and proceduresdevelopment, acquisition program documentation, detailed planning, design, andassessment, and other support activities. Offerors were required to propose labor,materials, transportation, and incidental support for the solicitation requirements.The solicitation anticipated award of a cost plus fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract, with a 1-year base term, and four 1-year options. Thecompetition was restricted to participants in the Small Business Administration’s8(a) program for small, disadvantaged businesses.Offerors were advised that they would be evaluated on the following evaluationfactors: business management, technical, past performance risk, and cost. Offerorswere to be evaluated under the business management evaluation factor on the basisof charts to be discussed during oral presentations, based on nine subfactors. 1 RFP§ M-2.2.c(1). For the technical evaluation factor, offerors were to be evaluated onthe basis of a whitepaper responding to a sample task for test planning andevaluation of air-to-ground missiles, based on eight subfactors. 2 Id. § M-2.2.c(2).Offerors’ proposed costs were to be evaluated to determine a most probable cost(MPC) to the government.The RFP stated that award would be made to the responsible offeror whose proposal provided the “best value” to the government. The RFP stated that the businessmanagement and technical evaluation factors were of equal importance, and weremore important than past performance and cost combined. Id. § M-2.2.a. 1 The business management subfactors are as follows: (1) process for assigningworkload, (2) process to minimize costs, (3) proposed personnel, (4) organizationalstructure, (5) recruitment/retention, (6) labor/materiel tracking, (7) contacts withdefense and testing community, (8) strategic plan analysis, (9) process to ensure safeworking environment. Subfactors 1-3 were of equal importance; subfactors 4-6 wereof equal importance, though less important than the first three subfactors; subfactors7-9 were of equal importance, but were less important than the first six. RFP§ M-2.2.c(1). 2 The technical subfactors are as follows: (1) environmental tests, (2) resources fortest plan document, (3) electronic document management, (4) allocation of testmissiles tests, (5) sequence of tests, (6) test methodology, (7) document generation process, (8) test schedule planning. Subfactors 1-3 were of equal importance;subfactors 4-7 were of equal importance, though less important than the first threesubfactors; subfactor 8 was of the least importance. RFP § M-2.2.c(2). Page 2 B-310359.2  The agency received nine proposals by the January 9, 2007, due date. The agencyconvened a technical evaluation committee (TEC), cost area team (CAT), and past performance evaluation group (PPEG) to evaluate offerors’ proposals. Each of theseevaluation teams produced reports which were referenced and incorporated into the Army’s final selection decision, which was approved by the source selectionauthority (SSA). The agency’s final evaluation ratings for Sherrick’s and SierraLobo’s proposals was as follows: SHERRICKSIERRALOBO BUSINESS MANAGEMENT FACTOR EXCELLENT EXCELLENT1. Process for assigning workload Excellent Excellent2. Process to minimize costs Excellent Excellent3. Proposed personnel Excellent Excellent4. Organizational structure Good Good5. Recruitment/retention Excellent Excellent6. Labor/materiel tracking Excellent Excellent7. Contacts with defense/testing community Excellent Excellent8. Strategic plan analysis Good Good9. Process to ensure safe working environmentGood GoodTECHNICAL FACTOR EXCELLENT EXCELLENT1. Environmental tests Excellent Excellent2. Resources for test plan document Excellent Good3. Electronic document management Excellent Excellent4. Allocation of test missiles for each test Good Excellent5. Sequence of tests Good Excellent6. Test methodology Excellent Excellent7. Document generation process Excellent Excellent8. Test schedule planning Excellent ExcellentPAST PERFORMANCE Low Risk Low RiskPROPOSED COST [deleted] [deleted]MOST PROBABLE COST $46,340,977 $46,183,811 Agency Report (AR), Tab E, Source Selection Decision (SSD), at 53-60. 3  (continued...) 3 The agency used an evaluation scheme of excellent, good, satisfactory, andunacceptable for the business management and technical evaluation factors; past Page 3 B-310359.2   The selection decision identified Sherrick’s and Sierra Lobo’s proposals as excellentoverall, and as the most competitive, and compared the two proposals in a finaltradeoff determination. First, with regard to the past performance evaluation factor,the Army concluded that although both offerors had low past performance risk,Sierra Lobo’s proposal “shows substantially more relevant performance history as a prime contractor for major Testing and Evaluation . . . cost-reimbursement contractsthan the Sherrick proposal.” Id. at 53.Next, the Army determined that while very close, Sierra Lobo’s proposal wassuperior to Sherrick’s under the business management and technical evaluationfactors. The selection decision noted that, although the offerors’ had variousstrengths and weaknesses under the business management and technical evaluationfactors, a “[p]roper analysis to determine which proposal offers the best value to thegovernment cannot end at merely counting the number of adjectival ratings relatingto major and minor advantages.” Id. at 54. The Army discussed each offeror’sstrengths and weaknesses under the factors, but concluded that there was no basisto clearly distinguish between their proposals, aside from a single, overalldiscriminator. Specifically, the Army concluded that Sierra Lobo’s “more relevant performance history as a prime contractor” gave a higher degree of confidence thatthe company could successfully perform the contract. Id. The selection decisionfurther found that because “past experience can be an indicator of both performancerisk and proposal risk, it would appear that [Sierra Lobo is] the more experiencedofferor of the two as a firm experienced with the business management issuesimplicit with large government testing and evaluation contracts.” Id.The Army selected Sierra Lobo’s proposal for award, based on the followingrationale:Sierra Lobo has demonstrated an overall superior proposal under theBusiness Management and Technical area. In addition, the past performance of Sierra Lobo acting as a prime contractor withsignificant T&E government contracts is more advantageous to thegovernment. The [most probable cost] calculations also favors SierraLobo, even though the cost difference is small. Based upon a totality of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the proposals, Sierra Lobotherefore offers the best value to the government.Id. at 60.(...continued) performance was evaluated on the basis of risk, with ratings of high, moderate, low,or unknown risk. Page 4 B-310359.2
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