When not to protest

When not to protest

There are times when a protest is warranted and can have huge rewards. This one filed by the Dixon Group Inc. is not one of those times.

Protesting contractors: The Dixon Group Inc., Washington, D.C.

Contracting agency: Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Protest issue: Whether the contractor should have been disqualified for price.

GAO decision, March 9, 2012: Denied.

Post-mortem: HHS solicited quotes under the General Services Administration’s Federal Supply Schedule from three vendors, informing the potential offerors that the award would be made on a best value basis with technical merit significantly more important than price. HHS received two quotations: Palladian was scored 20 percent higher than Dixon by the technical evaluation panel, and also won out in price – having proposed a price of $6.3 million. That price, as well as Dixon’s proposed price of $14.3 million, were considerably higher than the independent government estimate of $3.7 million.Still, based on its significantly higher price and lower technical score, Dixon was excluded from the competitive range and HHS continued negotiations with Palladian.

Unfair? Not according to the Government Accountability, which found that “Dixon failed to provide sufficient detail” to prove that it could successfully meet the agency’s requirements. Although technical capabilities were significantly more important than price, Dixon’s price of more than twice what Palladian proposed was over the top. That, coupled with its poor technical evaluation, led HHS to conclude that Dixon did not have a reasonable chance of receiving the award and therefore should be excluded from the competitive range.

Dixon was not competitive in any area of the technical evaluation and its price alone likely would have excluded them regardless. The GAO again reminded contractors an important lesson: “In a competitive FSS procurement, it is the vendor’s burden to submit a quotation that is adequately written and establishes the merits of the quotation. ”Dixon clearly did not meet that burden.