Frontier Transportation, Inc.
B-400345, Sep 9, 2008
Frontier Transportation, Inc. protests the rejection of its quotation under request for quotations (RFQ) No. AG-0343-S-08-9004, issued by the Department of Agriculture for mobile refrigerated trailer units for use on incident assignments in the Northern Rockies geographic area. Frontier argues that the agency improperly rejected its quotation on the basis of unreasonable price.
We deny the protest.
B-400345, Frontier Transportation, Inc., September 9, 2008
Protest that agency improperly rejected protester's quotation after unreasonably concluding that its price was too high is denied where the record shows that protester's price was significantly higher than the government estimate and significantly higher than the prices received from other small businesses during the competition.
Frontier Transportation, Inc. protests the rejection of its quotation under request for quotations (RFQ) No. AG-0343-S-08-9004, issued by the Department of Agriculture for mobile refrigerated trailer units for use on incident assignments in the
This solicitation was posted on the federal business opportunities (FedBizOpps) internet website on
The RFQ also contained a clause entitled, Method of Award-Cascading Set-Aside Procedure. RFQ at 5. The relevant portions of this clause advised that:
1. Multiple awards of Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPA) resulting from this solicitation will be made using the following cascading set-aside order of preference:a. In accordance with FAR [Federal Acquisition Regulation] Subpart 19.13, awards will be made on a competitive basis first to responsible, eligible HUBZone small business concerns.
b. Secondly, additional awards will be made on a competitive basis in accordance with FAR Subpart 19.14, to responsible, eligible Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) concerns.
c. Thirdly, additional awards will be made on a competitive basis in accordance with FAR Subpart 19.5, to responsible small business concerns.
The RFQ provided that quoted prices would be evaluated for reasonableness and that price was not the determining factor for award, but rather, a factor for consideration. RFQ at 67.
Eight quotations were received. Frontier was the only HUBZone vendor to submit a quote. There were no quotations received from SDVOSB vendors. Contracting Officer's (CO) Statement at 3. The agency reports that the quotations ranged in price from $125 to $450 daily and that the independent government estimate (IGE) was $250 per day. Three quotes exceeded the IGE--the quotes submitted by Frontier and two of the small business vendors.
The agency determined that the five quotations priced below the government estimate were reasonably priced, but might not be sufficient to satisfy the government's needs during the upcoming season and decided that it would instead prefer to award to all eight vendors.
Frontier was contacted by the agency on
Only one of the small business vendors submitted a revised quotation by the June 25 deadline. The CO awarded six agreements with the following daily equipment rates: $125, $165, $170, $200, $200 and $250. On June 26, after awards had been made, Frontier submitted a revised quotation offering $400 per day and imposing a per unit surcharge of $1,000 per year. Since Frontier submitted the only quote from a HUBZone small business concern, the CO determined that Frontier's revised quote was unreasonably priced based on comparison with the IGE. CO's Statement at 4. Successful vendors were notified by mail and an on-line announcement was posted on
Frontier argues that its quote was reasonable and that the CO failed to properly evaluate its quoted price in accordance with the terms of the RFQ. Frontier also argues that the IGE was flawed and should not be used as a basis to determine price reasonableness. The protester further argues that since it was the only HUBZone small business vendor to submit a quote, the CO could not evaluate its price by comparing it to the prices quoted by other small business concerns.
As noted above, the procurement was conducted under simplified acquisition procedures. Simplified acquisition procedures are designed to, among other things, reduce administrative expenses, promote efficiency and economy in contracting, and avoid unnecessary burdens for agencies and contractors. Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) sect. 13.002. These procedures provide discretion to
The primary issue here is Frontier's claim that the CO improperly used an unreasonable price determination to reject the quote of a HUBZone business concern. As stated above, the RFQ specifically provided that a BPA would be issued to those vendors who submitted a technically acceptable quote at a reasonable price. RFP para. E.2. The RFQ further stated that price would be evaluated in accordance with the FAR.
The protester also argues that the IGE used here was developed after an inadequate evaluation of the market for the required equipment. In calculating the IGE, the agency reports that it contacted companies in
On this record, we have no basis to conclude that the IGE was not reasonably based or that the market research was inadequate. If anything, the adequacy of the agency's market research was vindicated by the quotes it received from numerous other small business concerns. Frontier's argument that the IGE was based on an inadequate evaluation of the market reflects mere disagreement with the agency's assessment and provides no basis for our Office to sustain a protest.
The protest is denied.
Gary L. Kepplinger
 In its initial protest, Frontier also protested the eligibility of one of the successful vendors, Watkins and Shepard Leasing, LLC on the basis that Watkins did not qualify as a small business vendor. On
 The protester suggests that the agency rejected its quote in order to issued a BPA to Watkins, a local hometown large business concern. Essentially, the protester is alleging that agency officials acted in bad faith. Government officials are presumed to act in good faith and any argument that contracting officials are motivated by bias or bad faith must be supported by convincing proof; we will not attribute unfair or prejudicial motives to procurement officials on the basis of inference or suppositions. ACC Constr. Co., Inc., B-289167,
 Frontier also complains that, in the course of this procurement it has requested specific information and documents regarding actions taken by the CO after notification of the protest. These documents included the notice of protest to successful vendors, suspension of performance or termination of the BPAs, and notice to our Office concerning the agency's intent to continue contract performance in the face of a protest. We simply note that in this procurement, the agency issued BPAs to all vendors with reasonable prices. The remedy available to Frontier was not for the agency to remove another company's BPA, but to issue a seventh BPA to Frontier. Under these circumstances, these documents were irrelevant to Frontier's protest.