Potomac Health Associates Files Successful Protest with the GAO

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McLean, VA —Potomac Health Associates, Inc. announced that it filed a successful protest of a contract award on behalf of its client, Retina Consultants of Nevada (“RCN”). After having initially been awarded to another contractor, the decision effectively negates VA’s original award, and gives RCN another opportunity to be re-considered for the contract.

PHA was retained by RCN to prepare a proposal to provide part-time retinal services at the Las Vegas VAMC. Although RCN is the largest retinal group in Nevada and located just miles from the Las Vegas VAMC, the VA selected a staffing firm from California that specialized in correctional medical care. During a debriefing, following award, PHA learned details about the evaluation that raised questions as to whether the process was conducted in accordance with stated evaluation criteria.

After careful consideration with RCN, PHA filed a protest of the award with the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”). PHA alleged that the agency made several significant errors during evaluation. First, despite multiple statements in RCN’s proposal committing to deliver all services onsite at the VAMC, evaluators nevertheless misread elements of the proposal and assumed that certain services covered under the contract would be provided offsite at RCN offices. In addition, the agency stated that RCN’s proposal failed to include provider credentials that were, in fact, submitted in the proposal, yet went unnoticed by evaluators. PHA alleged that VA’s misinterpretation of the location where RCN proposed to provide services and the VA’s failure to locate critical documents included in the proposal provided evidence of a deficiency in the evaluation that significantly prejudiced RCN. PHA argued that an agency is not empowered to selectively ignore direct statements in an offeror’s proposal and conclude that it will not meet a requirement when: 1) the proposal states unequivocally, to the contrary, that it will do just that; or, 2) information necessary to demonstrate that a requirement has been met has, in fact, been submitted.

Shortly after the initial protest was filed, PHA learned of additional grounds to challenge the award and filed a supplemental protest with GAO alleging that the agency abandoned the RFP’s technical evaluation scheme and, in effect, substituted a new, unstated evaluation scheme wherein primacy and sole consideration was given to an offeror’s SDVOSB status. Following submission of the supplemental protest and review of the facts presented by PHA, the VA re-considered its position and confirmed the allegations made in the protest:

In lieu of responding to the allegations contained in the protest, VA will undertake corrective action because the source selection may not have been conducted in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation. Therefore, VA will take corrective action by re-evaluating the proposals and making a revised source selection decision, terminating the original decision if necessary…

As a result of the protest, PHA was able to reverse the initial unfavorable award decision, thereby enabling RCN a second chance at re-consideration for award.

About Retina Consultants of Nevada

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 1.30.24 PMRetina Consultants of Nevada was established in 1980. With nine ophthalmologists specializing exclusively in diseases and surgery of the retina and vitreous, RCN is the only subspecialty retinal practice in Southern Nevada and largest in the state. The practice practice serves the Nevada markets of Las Vegas, Laughlin, and Mesquite, and the southern Utah area of St. George.

About Potomac Health Associates, Inc.

Potomac Health Associates, Inc. is a professional services firm that specializes in federal health care contracting and business development for commercial clients. Since its inception, the firm has helped its clients win in excess of $450 million in competitive awards from the VA alone, and an estimated $3.8 billion in competitive and non-competitive federal contract awards from federal agencies.

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