Many government solicitations require you to propose adequate staffing levels in order to get a higher score at the staffing levels bid protesttechnical evaluation stage. A problem arises in a bid protest where the agency gives you a weakness simply because your proposal did not meet the government estimates.

This is especially true with fixed price contracts. However, although the government can rely upon its estimates to evaluate performance of a contract, it cannot downgrade your proposal simply because your overall proposed staffing levels do not meet the government’s estimate.  See Native Resource Development Company, B-409617.3.  The government not keep the estimate undisclosed and then downgrade your evaluation scores.

Staffing Levels and Discussions

The agency’s downgrade or weakness becomes more problematic when its fails to bring up the discrepancy during discussions.  Government contracting agencies must look beyond the bottom line numbers to determine whether there are specific areas in which your proposed staffing was inadequate. See Olympus Bldg. Servs., Inc., B-285351, B-283351.2, Aug. 17, 2000, 2000 CPD ¶ 178 at 10.

Another problem when the agency alerts you during discussions that it has concern with certain areas of staffing levels, yet the agency ultimately evaluates your overall proposal with weaknesses in staffing that it never discussed. GAO in a bid protest decision will more than likely rule that the agency’s actions were unreasonable. The agency must conduct meaningful discussions when it comes to staffing levels.

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For additional information or representation  in a bid protest about your staffing levels, call our GAO protest lawyers at 1-866-601-5518.

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