CW Government Travel, Inc.


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:  CW Government Travel, Inc.

File:  B-419193.4; B-419193.5; B-419193.6

Date:  April 15, 2021

Lars E. Anderson, Esq., Charlotte R. Rosen, Esq., and James P. Miller, Esq., Odin Feldman Pittleman PC, for the protester.
Timothy A. Furin, Esq., Ryan C. Bradel, Esq., Alan M. Apple, Esq., and Chelsea A. Padgett, Esq., Ward & Berry PLLC, for BCD Travel USA, LLC, the intervenor.
Jeremiah Strack, Esq., General Services Administration, for the agency.
Jonathan L. Kang, Esq., and John Sorrenti, Esq., Office of the General Counsel, GAO, participated in the preparation of the decision.

DIGEST

1.  Challenges to the evaluation of the awardee’s technical quotation and past performance are denied where the protester’s arguments rely on definitions that are not found in the solicitation, and where the evaluations were reasonable and consistent with the solicitation criteria.

2.  Challenge to the evaluation of the awardee’s quoted price is denied where the agency reasonably found the awardee’s quotation and discussions responses addressed the agency’s concerns regarding the realism of certain prices.  Argument that the awardee’s price was unbalanced is denied where the agency reasonably found that the price was not substantially overstated and therefore did not present an unacceptable risk.

CW Government Travel, Inc. (CWT), of Arlington, Virginia, protests the issuance of a task order to BCD Travel USA, LLC (BCD), of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, under request for quotations (RFQ) No. 47QMCB20Q0010, which was issued by the General Services Administration (GSA) for travel management company (TMC) services for the Department of the Army.  The protester argues that the agency unreasonably evaluated BCD’s technical quotation, past performance, and price.

We deny the protest.

BACKGROUND

GSA issued the RFQ on May 13, 2020, under the Federal Supply Schedules (FSS) provisions of Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) subpart 8.4.  Agency Report (AR)[1], Exh. 2, RFQ at 1.  The solicitation was limited to vendors[2] who hold FSS contract special item number 56150, travel agent services, and sought quotations to provide “travel services support for authorized travelers on official travel for designated United States Army activities and facilities throughout the [Department of Defense] [(DOD)] in the contiguous United States (CONUS), [Army Corps of Engineers] Alaska and Hawaii locations, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.”  Id.at 5.  The contractor will be required to provide “personnel, equipment, facilities, licenses, materials, resources, supplies, and services” necessary to meet all requirements of the performance work statement (PWS).  Id. at 5.  The RFQ anticipated the issuance of a task order with fixed-prices for contract line item numbers (CLINs) with a base period of 1 year and four 1‑year options.  Id. at 16‑22.  According to CWT, the RFQ consolidated five existing task orders; CWT is the incumbent for four of the task orders and Omega World Travel is the incumbent for the fifth order.  Protest at 3.

The RFQ stated that quotations would be evaluated against the following five factors:  (1) TMC passenger name record (PNR) validation, (2) technical approach, (3) past performance, (4) small business participation, and (5) price.  Id. at 104.  The TMC PNR validation factor and small business participation factor were to be evaluated on a pass/fail basis and acceptable/unacceptable basis, respectively.  Id. at 104-05, 108-09.  The technical approach factor identified six criteria:  (1) technical approach, (2) corporate experience, (3) implementation and transition, (4) central billing account (CBA) reconciliation process, (5) key personnel plan, and (6) qualification of key personnel.  Id. at 106-07.  The RFQ did not specify the relative weights of these criteria, and did not provide for the assignment of separate adjectival ratings.  See id.

For price, vendors were required to submit fixed-price fees for transactions and tasks.  Id. at 109.  The RFQ advised that the agency would evaluate the price for the base year by multiplying the fees by the estimated number of transactions identified in the solicitation.  Id.  For the option years, the agency was to multiply the fees by the estimated number of transactions identified in each of the scenarios listed in attachment 12, including point of sale (POS) and management service fee (MSF) scenarios.[3]  Id. at 109; id., attach. 12, Tiered Pricing Model at 259.  As relevant here, the solicitation also advised that the agency would evaluate prices for balance and realism:  “The Government will take into consideration any unbalanced pricing.  An overall price that is excessively high or low (without sufficient justification) may be considered unrealistic and unreasonable and may receive no further consideration.”  Id. at 109-10.

The RFQ provided that award would be made on a best-value tradeoff basis, and that “[t]he Government may elect to award to other than the lowest priced Offeror, or other than the highest technically rated Offeror.”  Id. at 104.  With regard to a tradeoff decision, the solicitation advised that “[t]he Government is more concerned with obtaining superior technical features than with making award at the lowest price to the Government,” but further stated that “the Government will not make an award at a significantly higher overall price to the Government to achieve slightly superior technical features.”  Id.

GSA received quotations from three vendors, including CWT and BCD, by the closing date of July 27.  AR, Ex. 12, Price Negotiation Memorandum (PNM)[4] at 2; RFQ at 97.  The agency conducted discussions with vendors on September 3, and requested responses to questions.  COS at 11-12.  The agency evaluated CWT’s and BCD’s quotations and discussions responses as follows:[5]

 

BCD

CWT

TMC PNR Validation

Pass

Pass

Technical Approach

Outstanding

Good

Past Performance

Outstanding

Outstanding

Small Business Participation

Acceptable

Acceptable

Evaluated Price (POS)

$46,805,913

$53,630,009

Evaluated Price (MSF)

$43,748,726

$53,718,178

 

Id. at 13.

The contracting officer, who was also the source selection authority, concluded that BCD’s quotation provided the best value to the government because it was the most highly rated under the non-price factors and quoted the lowest overall price.  Id. at 14.  The agency awarded the task order to BCD on September 17 and advised CWT of the award on September 18.  Id. at 12; AR, Exh. 14, Notice of Award, Sept. 18, 2020, at 1.

CWT filed a protest (B-419193) with our Office on September 25, challenging the award to BCD.  Protest (B-419193) at 1.  CWT challenged the agency’s evaluation of its quotation under the past performance factor, and BCD’s quotation under the technical approach, past performance, and price factors.  Id. at 3.  The protester also argued that the agency conducted unequal and misleading discussions.  Id.

GSA provided its report responding to the protest on October 26, and CWT and BCD filed comments on November 5; the protester’s comments also included new supplemental arguments (B-419193.2).  On November 9, prior to the time established by our Office for filing a supplemental agency report, GSA advised that it would take corrective action in response to the supplemental protest.  CW Gov. Travel, Inc.,
B-419193, B-419193.2, Nov. 17, 2020, at 1 (unpublished decision).  Specifically, the agency stated that it would reevaluate BCD’s quotation in the areas of “proposed transition plan, past performance, key personnel, staffing, and technical aspects.”  Id.  Based on the agency’s proposed corrective action, we concluded that the protest was rendered academic and dismissed it on November 17.  Id.

During the corrective action, GSA reevaluated BCD’s quotation, and revised its ratings under the technical approach and past performance factors, in each case from outstanding to good.  AR, Ex. 32, Source Selection Decision…



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