Before: BORK, SILBERMAN, and FRIEDMAN,* Circuit Judges.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
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APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Civil Action No. 86-00431.
This is an appeal from the judgment of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granting summary judgment for the government and dismissing the complaint of an unsuccessful bidder for a government contract.
1. After extensive study and discussion among several government agencies, the General Services Administration issued a request for proposals to provide debt collection services covering $4.5 billion due the federal government. The request for proposals established eight items for which contracts would be awarded, and each item was categorized by type of debt and age of delinquency. The solicitation set forth in detail the criteria for performance under the contract and the rules for the submission of bids, including the requirement that each bid contain separate technical and price proposals.
Prior to the submission of bids, GSA held a pre-proposal conference attended by 106 representatives of the debt collection business. At this conference numerous questions were discussed, and as a result the solicitation was amended. A technical evaluation panel composed of debt collection officials from various federal agencies was appointed to evaluate the bids to be submitted.
Forty-five bidders submitted proposals. After receiving the bids, the contracting officer separated the technical proposals from the price proposals and forwarded the technical proposals to the technical evaluation panel. The panel reviewed those proposals, initially evaluated them, and submitted its report to the contracting officer.
The contracting officer rejected 18 of the proposals as unacceptable or inherently incapable of being made acceptable. The contracting officer then held technical negotiations with each of the remaining 27 bidders, and informed each bidder of the technical deficiencies of their proposals. Following those technical negotiations, the bidders submitted their best and final offers. The technical evaluation panel reevaluated these final offers and submitted its recommendations to the contracting officer.
The contracting officer then combined the price and technical scores for each bidder on the eight proposed contracts, using a ratio of 60 percent for technical merit and 40 percent for price. This calculation resulted in the final evaluations and rankings of the bidders on each of the eight contracts. The contracting officer made tentative awards for each of the eight categories of debt.
Six of the eight contracts were tentatively awarded to the appellees, Corliss Credit Services, Inc. (Corliss) and a joint venture consisting of Corliss and Stanley Tulchin & Associates (STA/Corliss). The appellees had the highest rankings among the bidders for all of the contracts that they were tentatively awarded.
The technical proposal of the appellant, G C Services, Corp., was rated tenth among all bidders but when the appellant's proposed prices for the eight contracts was considered, its ratings ranged from third (on three contracts) to ninth (on one contract). The appellant's average rating covering all of the contracts was fifth. In a formal debriefing following the awards, the appellant was informed of the major weaknesses in its proposal. These weaknesses included the failure to provide (1) an adequate description of its personnel resources, and (2) complete references for the previous government contracts it had completed.
Prior to the final award of the contracts, pre-award surveys, conducted by teams of government auditors and data processing specialists, were made of all prospective awardees at their places of business. After these surveys were completed and written recommendations were provided to the contracting officer, she made the final contract awards. These awards were as follows: one contract to Capitol Credit Corporation, one to Lockheed/Datacom, three to Corliss, and three to STA/Corliss.
2. When the result of the bidding was announced, the appellant filed a protest with GSA challenging the award to Corliss and Corliss/STA. GSA denied the protest, and the appellant filed suit in the district court. Following extensive discovery, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. After oral argument, the ...