October 2017 Bid Protest Review™: What Qualifies as “Same” or “Similar” Size and Complexity for Past

This article reviews the recently published protest decision Matter of: Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation, B-412278. As Raytheon’s proposal manager for this pursuit, I have a personal interest in this protest outcome.

The subject ID/IQ task order procurement issued by the by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under request for proposals (RFP) for support of the National Cybersecurity Protection System (NCPS). The DOMino procurement supports DHS’s mission of protecting the .gov web domain from cyber attacks.

The RFP stated that offerors’ proposals would be evaluated on the basis of cost and the following eight non-cost factors: (1) system engineering life cycle (SELC) process integration; (2) technology integration; (3) O&M; (4) staffing; (5) past performance; (6) small business subcontracting; (7) organizational conflicts of interest (OCIs); and (8) security. For purposes of award, each of the first four evaluation factors were more important than past performance, and past performance was more important than cost/price. The non-cost/price factors, when combined, were “significantly more important” than cost/price. Raytheon scored 1 color grade above Northrop in each of the first 4 factors above (Blue, Blue, Teal, Blue), and tied on past performance (Superior).

Among other protest grounds, Northrop argued that Raytheon’s Superior rating for past performance was unreasonable because its citations ($134M, $281M and $214M) we not of the “same” or “similar” size and complexity of the anticipated $1.15B DOMino program. Winner: Raytheon ($755.1M). Northrop Grumman ($732M) protest: denied.

My takeaways are:

  • A “marginally similar” program in size (~10%) can still show the offeror’s ability to successfully perform work under a “high” dollar value (~10x) contract

  • A “marginally similar” program in size can still be relevant based on the same or similarity of the work in terms of scope and complexity

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