Protesting Government Contractor Agency Evaluation Criteria

When it comes to solicitation evaluation, specific criteria is crucial to contractors. They must understand and follow guidelines for the chance to win the contact. The same holds true for the agency. When an agency doesn’t follow unstated agency evaluation criteria, it runs the risk of an application protest.

In this case, Phoenix Air Group, Inc., B-412796.2 et al. (Sept. 26, 2016), the GAO’s decision to sustain the protest where the protester’s proposal was unreasonably evaluated under review criteria that was not specified in the solicitation, therefore, complying with a solicitation’s stated evaluation criteria is critical, for both offeror and the agency.

The Phoenix Air Group prepared a solicitation for a commercial electronic warfare aircraft test and evaluation service for the Department of the Navy. Under Sections A and B of the solicitation, detailed technical requirements of the scope of work were provided. Coupled, these sections require the offer to propose five specific aircraft that would accommodate modification to allow towing and performance aspects. The review would be conducted as a two-step approach; review for acceptability and conduct a best value tradeoff of each offers capabilities and total price.

To review Sections A and B of the offer for compliance, the Interior’s evaluators established a checklist for the evaluation. During the evaluation, Phoenix Air Group was noted for several weaknesses and two deficiencies. In return, this prompted Phoenix Air to protest the evaluation and award because the capability review was relying on unstated evaluation criteria not made aware to offeror.

The GAO decided the evaluation strayed from the solicitation’s evaluation criteria and a reasonable offeror should understand the stated review criteria. In this case, the unstated evaluation criteria significantly lowered Phoenix Air’s score, the GAO sustained Phoenix Air’s protest.

Do you have questions about agency evaluation criteria? Contact us at KDuncan and Company for advice on your next proposal!


KDuncan & Company is dedicated to providing knowledge and support for small government contractors about concerns regarding government contracting. For questions on areas such as as cost proposals, accounting systems, DCAA compliance, and incurred cost audits, reach out to KDuncan & Company.

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