Government Contracting Database
Technical ratings are aspects of the procurement process involving discretionary determinations of procurement officials which a court should not second-guess. Gen. Dynamics Mission Sys., Inc. v. United States, 137 Fed. Cl. 493, 496 (2018) (quoting E.W. Bliss Co. v. United States, 77 F.3d 445, 449 (Fed. Cir. 1996)). The court of appeals has adopted a “grounded in reason standard” to review an agency decision to accept a higher cost proposal “as the best value to the government.” Constellation W., Inc. v. United States, 125 Fed. Cl. 505, 533 (2015); Widnall v. B3H Corp., 75 F.3d 1577, 1582, 1584 (Fed. Cir. 1996); Lincoln Servs., Ltd. v. United States, 230 Ct. Cl. 416, 429 (1982) (in which the court found that given the circumstances of the case, the agency’s failure to follow an agency guidance document in scoring technical and price factors was not of such significance that the decision should be set aside).
The question is not whether the court would reach the same conclusions as the agency regarding technical advantages, but rather whether the conclusions reached by the agency lacked a reasonable basis, and, thus, were arbitrary and capricious. Constellation W., Inc. v. United States, 125 Fed. Cl. 505, 533 (2015). “In simple terms, courts should not substitute their judgments for pre-award procurement decisions unless the agency clearly acted irrationally or unreasonably.” Commercial Energies, Inc. v. United States, 20 Cl. Ct. 140, 145 (1990) (citing Baird Corp. v. United States, 1 Cl. Ct. 662 (1983)).
Updated: August 8, 2018