Disagreeing with a government agency’s “price realism analysis” during the procurement process is not a valid legal basis to sustain a protest. So said the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) in its April 3, 2017 decision against AllWorld Language Consultants.
The GAO rejected AllWorld’s protest against the awarding of an USD 18m language services contract to competitor Legal Interpreting Services (LIS).
Three vendors submitted bids to contracting agency General Services Administration (GSA): AllWorld (USD 20.8m), another vendor (USD 20.2m), and LIS (USD 18.4m).
The GSA ran the procurement on behalf of the US Air Force and awarded the so-called fixed-price task order to lowest bidder LIS. (Fees under a fixed-price task order are independent of expended time or resources.)
AllWorld complained that the LIS bid failed to “clearly” take into account the “heightened state of threat during extended periods of high pressure and stress” that would come from supplying 38 linguists to Air Force Central Command operations in a number of countries in the Middle East and Central Asia. The contract includes locating, screening, hiring, training, and managing linguists proficient in Arabic, Hindi, Pashto, and Dari, among other languages.
According to the GAO, however, contracting agency GSA found the winning bid to have “adequately described the personal experiences of its proposed personnel,” including training and personnel reviews, and concluded that LIS’ linguists meet the requirements.
Although this decision does not address every issue raised by AllWorld, we have reviewed all of the protester’s arguments and find that none provides a basis to sustain the protest — Susan Poling, General Counsel, GAO
Furthermore, “the depth and manner of an agency’s price realism analysis is a matter within the agency’s Discretion,” the GAO decision read.
AllWorld also protested that LIS relied on a subcontractor (perennial military contractor Mission Essential Personnel) without a binding contract to deliver linguists, and that the GSA had allowed only LIS to revise its price and not the other bidders.
But the GAO knocked down all of AllWorld’s objections, pointing out that because it submitted the highest bid of the three LSPs, “even if AllWorld’s protest had merit, the third vendor, rather than the protester, would be in line for Award.”
This isn’t AllWorld’s first rodeo. Things turned out more favorably for the Maryland-based LSP in 2016 when the GAO sustained a similar protest against the awarding of another Air Force contract to SOSi (SOS International). AllWorld bid USD 31.9m and SOSi, USD 17.4m. AllWorld had also complained that the GSA had misevaluated the bids.
Slator reached out to the GAO for comment but did not receive a response as of press time.