Yes, some agencies reward out-of-the-box thinking, especially when it results in significant financial savings to the agency. However, there is a risk involved with that tactic, and offerors who do not follow the strict requirements of the solicitation can’t be surprised when their proposal is rejected.
Protesting contractor: XTec Inc., Reston
Contracting agency: Department of Homeland Security, US Secret Service (USSS)
Issue: Whether the agency’s technical evaluation of the proposal was reasonable.
GAO decision, Nov. 4, 2011 (Published June 21, 2012): Denied.
Post-mortem: XTec protested the award of a fixed-price contract for an access control and visitor management system at the White House and vice president’s residence, arguing that USSS erroneously and unreasonably evaluated the design and technical approach in its proposal.
Despite XTec’s claims to the contrary, both USSS and the Government Accountability Office in its review of the solicitation and proposal determined that XTec intended to use “the substantial base already in place” outside the D.C. area, which was in direct violation of the requirements. XTecs response was that in other sections of its proposal it stated that it was proposing “a solution that fully supports… system design, installation and migration at protective facilities in the Washington, D.C. area as specified in the solicitation.”
Two less to be learned here: First, don’t confuse the agency. If specifics of your proposal are unclear, an agency won’t necessarily assume in your favor. And second, as I’ve said before, an offeror cannot rely on blanket statements that claim the company will fully comply with the terms of the solicitation as viable protest grounds. Those statements are fluff and won’t sway the agency during evaluation or GAO in deciding the protest.