To avoid rejection, give agencies what they ask for
During my first semester of law school, I had to take a pass/fail legal writing course. The process was very simple: submit what you thought was correct and a third year law student would mark it up with corrections. You would then make the suggested changes and resubmit for a passing grade. Simple enough, but one guy was convinced that he knew better and refused to make the suggested changes. He failed.
My point? Follow directions. The same holds true in federal contracting.
Contracting agency: Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers
Protest issue: Exclusion from the Competitive Range
GAO decision, Nov. 21, 2011: Denied.
Post-mortem: The Army excluded Outreach from the competition essentially for failing to comply with the solicitation. According to the request for proposals, there were four factors that would be evaluated: company experience, qualifications of key personnel, past performance and specialty knowledge, all related specifically to flood risk management. As with most solicitations, a strict page limitation was established for each of the evaluation factors.
Outreach, in an apparent attempt to break into an area of service that it did not have much experience in, described related national programs without proper explanation for how they tied to the tasks required under the contract. Furthermore, had the company provided this additional information, it would’ve exceeded the page limitation.
According to the GAO, Outreach tried to get around their limited experience in national flood risk management with a creative proposal that did not comply with the solicitation. The lesson here is clear — give the agency exactly what they ask for.