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We find the agencys best-value determination to be unreasonable because it is relies, in part, on a determination that is inadequately documented. B-413682.2, B-413682.3: Mar 29, 2017)In addition to the evaluation and discussions errors addressed above, Mevacon and Encanto argue that the Corps best‑value tradeoff decision was flawed because it relied solely on adjectival ratings and did not articulate a reasonable basis for the selection of Infinites higher-rated, higher-priced proposal. The evaluation also included a breakdown of the percentage of effort in each mission area to be performed by each prime contractor, subcontractor, and joint venture partner. The protester maintains that the agency unreasonably concluded that CI and UCS (along with two other offerors) were equivalent based solely on the firms adjectival ratings and did not perform a detailed critical analysis of the comparative merits of the proposals. Adjectival or point score evaluation ratings are merely guides to intelligent decision making.

For the reasons discussed below, we agree and sustain the protest. The essence of an agencys evaluation is reflected in the evaluation record--the underlying merits of particular strengths and the proposal as a whole--rather than a comparison of the adjectival ratings. After receipt of final proposal revisions, the proposals included in the competitive range were rated as follows: Finally, the protester argues that the price/past performance tradeoff between Valdezs proposal and its own was inconsistent with the solicitation because both proposals received performance confidence ratings of substantial confidence. Those detailed strengths and weaknesses, along with the ranking of the proposals was carried forward into the agencys source selection decision. Metis Solutions, LLC, et al., B‑411173.2 et al., July 20, 2015, 2015 CPD 221 at 13.

AR, Tab 16, Source Selection Decision Document, at 18‑24. Similarly, the agency performed a comparison of the vendors past performance information, concluding that Heartlands evaluated superiority under that factor was primarily due to its status as the incumbent and concluded that, in the context of Aces positive past performance evaluation, the value to the government of Heartlands incumbency was not a large advantage. Accordingly, the agency concluded that Heartlands price premium outweighed the minimal gains provided by Heartlands slightly higher ratings. In short, in performing its best-value tradeoff determination, the agency specifically recognized the evaluated superiority of Heartlands quotation under the non-price factors; made assessments regarding the relative value of that superiority; considered the magnitude of Heartlands price premium; and concluded that the benefits offered by Heartlands higher-rated quotation were not worth Heartlands substantially higher price.

Specifically, with regard to the technical/management evaluation factor, the agency performed a subfactor-by-subfactor comparision that recognized the superiority of Heartlands proposal, but also documented the agencys assessments regarding the relative value of that superiority under each subfactor, along with the agencys overall conclusion that Heartlands advantages were not significant. We find nothing unreasonable in the agencys assessments and conclusions; accordingly, we find no merit in Heartlands protest challenging the agencys best-value tradeoff.

Notwithstanding these facts, the record shows that the agencys conclusion that four of these proposals were equivalent under the non-cost evaluation factors was based entirely on the adjectival ratings assigned, rather than on a detailed comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of the four proposals. Best Temporaries, Inc., B‑255677.3, May 13, 1994, 94-1 CPD 308 at 3.

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