Lyndhurst, NJ, June 25, 2019 – Scarinci Hollenbeck successfully represented AASKI Technology, Inc. (AASKI) in a bid protest before the Government Accountability Office (GAO), preserving the company’s award to provide technological support services to the U.S. Army.  United Support Services, LLC (USS) protested the award, challenging the agency’s evaluation of proposals.  In a decision issued June 18, 2019, and made public on June 24, 2019, the GAO rejected the protest and upheld the award in favor of AASKI, allowing the company to begin work on the five-year, $576+ million U.S. Army contract.

The Request for Proposal

On August 23, 2018, the U.S. Army issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for sensor technology, operations and readiness maintenance (STORM) in support of the Army’s product manager, medium altitude reconnaissance and surveillance systems (PdM MARSS) for current and emerging overseas contingency operations.  These services are planned to support the overall mission of PdM MARSS of providing tactically relevant manned aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance in support of current and emerging overseas contingency operations. 

The RFP contemplated the issuance of a cost-plus-fixed-fee/cost-no-fee task order using a best-value tradeoff based on cost/price, and the following non-cost/price factors:  technical, contractor support capabilities, and small business participation plan.

The Proposals and Award

The Army received five proposals, including proposals from USS and AASKI.  The Army rated four of the proposals, including USS’ proposal as unacceptable under the technical factor and eliminated the four proposals from consideration for the award.

With respect to USS, the Army assigned USS a deficiency, among other reasons, because it failed to explain how it would provide Airborne Sensor Operators (ASOs) for the AWAPPS and TACOP sensors.

AASKI, having submitted the only technically acceptable proposal, was awarded the contract.  The Army concluded that AASKI’s proposed price was fair and reasonable and, moreover, represented the best value to the Government.

The Protest

In response to the award, USS filed a protest, contending, among other things, that the Army unreasonably evaluated its proposal, treated USS and AASKI disparately in the evaluation, and improperly failed to hold discussions.  With respect to discussions, USS maintained that given the magnitude of the procurement, and the fact that the Army received only one technically acceptable offer, it was unreasonable for the Army not to engage in discussions.

AASKI Retains Contract Award

Following a briefing from USS, the Army, and AASKI, the GAO denied the protest.  The GAO found reasonable the Army’s conclusion that USS’s proposal failed to explain how USS would provide ASOs for the AWAPPS and TACOP sensors reasonable.  The GAO noted that USS’ “blanket statement in its proposal that it would provide an ASO for each sensor” did not salvage its proposal.

The GAO further rejected USS’ argument that the Army disparately evaluated proposals. The GAO found AASKI, like USS, explained how it proposed to leverage experienced teammates to provide qualified ASOs for all sensor systems.  In comparison, the GAO noted that USS’s proposal “did not show that its teammate had current staff with experience with the EMARSS-G system, or the AWAPPS or TACOP sensors.” 

Finally, the GAO rejected USS’ argument that the failure of the Army to engage in discussions was unreasonable here. The GAO explained that, although DFARS § 215.306 “provides that an agency should engage in discussions when the value of the acquisition equals or exceeds $100 million,” that provision was inapplicable here because the procurement was conducted under FAR part 16.

Scarinci Hollenbeck Partner Roshan D. Shah and Associate Kevin M. Foltmer represented AASKI in this matter.