Blogs

Posted on Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Too Much Information In Proposal Disqualifies Offeror

It is not unusual for an offeror to lose a contract for not giving the government enough information. The opposite, though, can happen. Recently, an offeror lost a contract for submitting too much information.

Offerors competing for a contract for constructing a government building had to submit a proposal that included a construction schedule that included “events, accomplishment, and criteria and the expected dates of each.” The construction schedule was to be in the form of a Gantt chart that showed the complete project schedule including “a maximum of 30 activities and or milestones.” The schedule had to include 16 specific milestones and activities including demobilization and final acceptance/contract completion.

One offeror did not follow the instructions and went overboard. Although its construction schedule included all the required items and showed no more than 30 milestones total, the schedule also listed 163 individual tasks which the government termed “activities.” The government rated the proposal unacceptable and eliminated the proposal from the competition because schedule submitted exceeded the RFP limitation of “30 milestones and or activities.”

In its protest to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the construction company argued, focusing on the phrase “and or,” that it complied with the solicitation requirement of “a maximum of 30 activities and or milestones.” 

More important, perhaps, was its argument the RFP’s limit of a maximum of 30 activities and or milestones would have required it to submit a construction schedule without most of the entries needed to describe the work for a project valued over $10 million. Although the offeror may have had an excellent argument, the offeror did not follow the RFP’s instructions so GAO denied the protest. Benaka Inc., B-416836, B-416836.2, Dec. 18, 2018. 

In trying to win a contract, an offeror naturally wants to show the government that the offeror REALLY knows the work to performed and its expertise in doing so.

But what the government really wants to see is a proposal that meets the RFP’s requirements. Volunteering too much information can be fatal.

Berenzweig Leonard is teaming up with Red Team Consulting for a monthly newsletter featuring upcoming contracts, key protest decisions, events, and more. This post was published in the January 2019 Monthly Insights newsletter. To sign up for Monthly Insights, please click here.

Terry O’Connor is a Partner at Berenzweig Leonard. Terry and Stephanie Wilson  lead the firm’s Government Contracts practice. Terry can be reached at toconnor@berenzweiglaw.com.