B-159518, AUG. 26, 1966

B-159518: Aug 26, 1966

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INCORPORATED: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED JUNE 14. WHOSE BID IS BASED ON A TECHNICAL PROPOSAL UTILIZING THE PIPER AZTEC. WAS ISSUED ON MARCH 2. THE CONTRACT CONTEMPLATED BY THE RFTP WAS ONE OF THE FIRM FIXED-PRICE TYPE WITH REIMBURSEMENT AT COST FOR CERTAIN CATEGORIES OF EXPENSES. FORTY-SIX FIRMS WERE SOLICITED ON THE FIRST STEP WITH TWENTY -EIGHT ADDITIONAL FIRMS REQUESTING BID SETS. A SOURCE SELECTION BOARD WAS NAMED ON APRIL 19. TO REVIEW AND EVALUATE THE TWENTY-SEVEN TECHNICAL PROPOSALS FROM TWENTY-ONE OFFERORS WHICH WERE RECEIVED ON APRIL 18. ONE PROPOSAL WAS TREATED AS A "LATE PROPOSAL" AND THEREFORE WAS NOT CONSIDERED. SIX OF THE OFFERORS WERE GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO CLARIFY THEIR PROPOSALS.

B-159518, AUG. 26, 1966

TO BARITA HELICOPTERS, INCORPORATED:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED JUNE 14, 1966, WITH ENCLOSURES, PROTESTING AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO ANY BIDDER UNDER DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY INVITATION FOR BIDS NO. (EA/-AMC (R) 29 040-66-649, WHOSE BID IS BASED ON A TECHNICAL PROPOSAL UTILIZING THE PIPER AZTEC, OR OTHER LIGHT TWIN AIRCRAFT OF COMPARABLE CAPABILITIES, OR UTILIZING LESS THAN 14 HELICOPTERS.

REQUEST FOR TECHNICAL PROPOSAL (RFTP) NO. (EA) AMC 20-040-66-1006, AS AMENDED, WAS ISSUED ON MARCH 2, 1966, AS TO THE FIRST STEP IN A TWO STEP FORMALLY ADVERTISED PROCUREMENT TO OBTAIN THE AIRCRAFT, PERSONNEL, VEHICLES, MAINTENANCE AND SPARE PARTS NECESSARY TO PROVIDE NONPERSONAL AVIATION SERVICES TO EFFECT SEARCH AND RECOVERY OPERATIONS IN SUPPORT OF MISSILE FIRINGS AND TEST ACTIVITIES FOR THE WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE (WSMR), NEW MEXICO. THE RFTP ALSO INCLUDED SERVICES COVERING THE SUBMISSION OF REPORTS SUBSEQUENT TO MISSION PERFORMANCE, AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY OF MISSILE FIRING OPERATIONS AND TRANSPORTATION OF NECESSARY PERSONNEL AND CARGO AS REQUIRED BY MISSION SCHEDULES. THE CONTRACT CONTEMPLATED BY THE RFTP WAS ONE OF THE FIRM FIXED-PRICE TYPE WITH REIMBURSEMENT AT COST FOR CERTAIN CATEGORIES OF EXPENSES, COVERING A 3- YEAR PERIOD. FORTY-SIX FIRMS WERE SOLICITED ON THE FIRST STEP WITH TWENTY -EIGHT ADDITIONAL FIRMS REQUESTING BID SETS. A SOURCE SELECTION BOARD WAS NAMED ON APRIL 19, 1966, TO REVIEW AND EVALUATE THE TWENTY-SEVEN TECHNICAL PROPOSALS FROM TWENTY-ONE OFFERORS WHICH WERE RECEIVED ON APRIL 18, 1966, IN RESPONSE TO THE FIRST STEP. ONE PROPOSAL WAS TREATED AS A "LATE PROPOSAL" AND THEREFORE WAS NOT CONSIDERED. SIX OF THE OFFERORS WERE GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO CLARIFY THEIR PROPOSALS, BUT THESE REMAINED TECHNICALLY UNACCEPTABLE. FOUR OF THE OTHER PROPOSALS WERE EVALUATED AS UNACCEPTABLE AND COULD NOT BE MADE ACCEPTABLE WITH A REASONABLE EFFORT. TOTAL OF TEN FIRMS THEN REMAINED ELIGIBLE FOR SOLICITATION ON THE SECOND STEP AS HAVING SUBMITTED ACCEPTABLE TECHNICAL PROPOSALS. AMONG THE PROPOSALS RATED ACCEPTABLE BY THE SOURCE SELECTION BOARD WERE THOSE OF YOUR COMPANY AND PAGE AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE, INC.

INVITATION FOR BIDS (EA) AMC (R) 29-040-66-649 WAS ISSUED MAY 25, 1966, AS THE SECOND STEP IN THIS PROCUREMENT AS TO THE TEN ELIGIBLE OFFERORS ON THE RFTP REQUESTING BIDS BASED ON EACH BIDDER'S TECHNICAL PROPOSAL. THE INVITATION REQUESTED BIDS ON SIX ITEMS OF PRICING WHICH WERE TO BE CONSIDERED IN ARRIVING AT THE LOWEST OVERALL PRICE FOR THE THREE-YEAR CONTRACT. THESE ITEMS WERE (1) COMPLETE AVIATION OPERATION SERVICE, (2) VEHICLES, (3) OVERTIME, (4) SHIFT DIFFERENTIAL, AND (5) TRAVEL--- PER DIEM AND MILEAGE. THE INVITATION CONTEMPLATED THAT AWARD WOULD BE MADE TO THE LOWEST RESPONSIBLE BIDDER SINCE THE TEN BIDDERS WERE FOUND TO BE RESPONSIVE TO THE RFTP FOLLOWING EVALUATION OF THEIR PROPOSALS ON THE FIRST STEP SUBMISSION. THREE OF THE ACCEPTABLE OFFERS ON THE FIRST STEP SUBMITTED "NO BIDS.' THE REMAINING SEVEN BIDDERS SUBMITTED A TOTAL OF TEN BIDS--- INCLUDING PERMISSIBLE ALTERNATES--- FOR THE THREE-YEAR PERIOD AS FOLLOWS:

TABLE

A. PAGE AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE, INC. $2,059,965.43

B. KEYSTONE HELICOPTER CORP. 2,465,907.75

C. ALLIED HELICOPTER, INC.2,508,746.20

D. CHICAGO HELICOPTERS, INC. 2,797,287.46

E. SERV-AIR, INCORPORATED 2,974,838.00

F. BARITA HELICOPTERS, INCORPORATED 3,188,562.50

G. INTERSTATE HELICOPTERS 3,875,759.50

H. INTERSTATE HELICOPTERS 3,920,823.50

I. INTERSTATE HELICOPTERS 4,213,342.50

J. INTERSTATE HELICOPTERS 4,258,341.50

A PRE-AWARD SURVEY WAS CONDUCTED OF PAGE AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE, INC., THE LOW BIDDER, AND ON JUNE 13, 1966, IT WAS RECOMMENDED THAT AWARD OF THE CONTRACT BE MADE TO PAGE AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE, INC. AT ITS BID OF $2,059,965.43. YOUR COMPANY, WHILE SUBMITTING A COMPLETELY ACCEPTABLE TECHNICAL PROPOSAL, WAS SIXTH HIGHEST BIDDER ON THE SECOND STEP WITH A BID OF $3,188,562.50.

YOU ALLEGE THAT THE PIPER TURBO AZTEC PROPOSED BY THE LOW BIDDER WILL NOT MEET THE MINIMUM PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATIONS, AND THAT 14 HELICOPTERS WILL BE REQUIRED IN ORDER TO MEET THE REQUIREMENT THAT 10 HELICOPTERS BE AVAILABLE ON A DAILY BASIS. PARAGRAPH 4 OF THE TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE RFTP PROVIDED:

"A. THE SERVICES TO BE PERFORMED REQUIRE TWO FLYABLE FIXED-WING MULTI- ENGINE AIRCRAFT (WET) WITH PILOTS, ON THE FLIGHT LINE EACH WORKING DAY. THE FIXED WING AIRCRAFT PROVIDED MUST BE CAPABLE OF WORKING AT THE DENSITY ALTITUDES THAT ARE REQUIRED BY PARAGRAPH 3C ABOVE IN THIS TECHNICAL SCOPE OF WORK, TRANSPORTING 4 TO 6 PASSENGERS OR APPROXIMATELY 800/1000 POUNDS OF CARGO AT SPEEDS OF 150 KNOTS. * * *.'

"B. ADDITIONALLY, THE SERVICES TO BE PERFORMED REQUIRE TEN FLYABLE HELICOPTERS (WET) WITH PILOTS ON THE FLIGHT LINE EACH WORKING DAY. * *

"D. THE CONTRACTOR SHALL PROVIDE THE NECESSARY REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE CAPABILITY TO INSURE THAT A TOTAL OF 12 FLYABLE AIRCRAFT ARE ON THE LINE AND AVAILABLE EACH WORK DAY AS SET FORTH IN PARAGRAPHS 4A AND 4B ABOVE.

IN VIEW OF YOUR PROTEST, THE PROCUREMENT AGENCY APPOINTED A TECHNICAL EVALUATION BOARD TO RE-EVALUATE THE BIDS. THE BOARD FOUND THAT (1) THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE RFTP AND INVITATION ARE TECHNICALLY SATISFACTORY, (2) THE PROPOSALS OF THE TEN FIRMS SOLICITED UNDER THE SECOND STEP WERE IN EACH CASE TECHNICALLY ACCEPTABLE, (3) THE PIPER AZTEC FIXED WING AIRCRAFT MEETS THE REQUIREMENTS SET FORTH IN THE RFTP, (4) THE REQUIREMENT FOR PLACING TEN FLYABLE HELICOPTERS ON THE LINE EACH DAY CAN BE MET BY USING A TOTAL FLEET OF TWELVE NEW HELICOPTERS, AND (5) THERE ARE NO TECHNICAL REASONS WHY THE LOW BIDDER SHOULD NOT BE AWARDED THE CONTRACT.

WE ARE ADVISED THAT SIX OF THE TEN ACCEPTABLE TECHNICAL PROPOSALS OFFERED THE PIPER AZTEC AS THE FIXED WING AIRCRAFT. AN ANALYSIS OF THE PIPER TURBO AZTEC CAPABILITIES AS COMPARED TO THE TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS SET FORTH IN PARAGRAPH 4A OF THE TECHNICAL SCOPE OF WORK WAS REPORTED TO US AS FOLLOWS:

TABLE

TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS PIPER TURBO AZTEC

PASSENGERS 4 TO 6 6

USEFUL LOAD 800/1000 LBS. 851 LBS. FULL FUEL

1274 LBS. REDUCED FUEL

AIRSPEED 150 KNOTS 195-205 KNOTS

INSTRUMENT FLIGHT

ABILITY YES YES

HOWEVER, THE PRE-AWARD SURVEY INDICATES THAT PAGE AIRCRAFT INTENDS TO USE THE CESSNA SKYKNIGHT MODEL 320 FIXED WING AIRCRAFT IN LIEU OF THE PIPER AZTEC. IT IS REPORTED BY COGNIZABLE TECHNICAL PERSONNEL THAT THE CESSNA 320 WILL EXCEED THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE RFTP AND THE INVITATION AND THAT IT WILL ALSO EXCEED THE PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATIONS OF THE PIPER AZTEC.

THE SECOND BASIS OF YOUR PROTEST TO THE EFFECT THAT 14 HELICOPTERS WILL BE NEEDED TO MEET DAILY FLIGHT REQUIREMENTS ALSO MUST BE REJECTED SINCE THIRTEEN OF THE TWENTY TECHNICAL PROPOSALS RECEIVED OFFERED A FLEET OF 12 HELICOPTERS. PAGE AIRCRAFT HAS STATED THAT "EXPERIENCE HAS SHOWN THAT OUR COMPANY HAS BEEN ABLE TO CONTINUALLY SUPPORT AN AIRCRAFT AVAILABLE RATE OF 83.5 PERCENT OVER THE PAST TEN YEARS OF OPERATION ON FLEETS OF BELL HELICOPTERS OF SIMILAR CONFIGURATION. * * *.' THE BELL HELICOPTER COMPANY HAS ADVISED THEIR RECORDS SHOW THAT HISTORY OF FOUR YEARS' OPERATION OF BETWEEN 90 AND 100 G3B AND G3B1 TYPE HELICOPTERS INDICATES THAT FLIGHT AVAILABILITY PERCENTAGE RUNS AS HIGH AS 85 TO 90 PERCENT. YOUR PROTEST LETTER CONCEDES THAT AN AVAILABILITY PERCENTAGE OF 83.5 PERCENT WITH A FLEET OF 12 HELICOPTERS WOULD MEET THE TECHNICAL REQUIREMENT FOR PROVIDING TEN FLYABLE HELICOPTERS ON THE FLIGHT LINE FOR EACH WORKING DAY.

FURTHER, PARAGRAPH 11 OF THE RFTP PROVIDED THAT THE SUCCESSFUL CONTRACTOR WILL BE REQUIRED TO UTILIZE AND ASSIGN TO THIS CONTRACT THE "LEVEL OF EFFORT" HE PROPOSES IN THE FIRST STEP AND, IF ADDITIONAL EFFORT IS REQUIRED BY THE CONTRACTOR TO SATISFACTORILY PERFORM THE WORK CALLED FOR, SUCH ADDITIONAL EFFORT WILL BE FURNISHED BY THE CONTRACTOR AT NO INCREASE IN THE CONTRACT AMOUNT, PROVIDED THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT INCREASE THE SCOPE OF WORK.

THE QUESTION WHETHER THE TECHNICAL APPROACH OFFERED BY PAGE WILL SATISFACTORILY MEET THE GOVERNMENT'S NEEDS SEEMS SOMEWHAT ACADEMIC. THE PAGE LOW BID WAS BASED, IN SUBSTANTIAL PART, ON ITS OWN TECHNICAL PROPOSAL WHICH HAD BEEN ACCEPTED UNDER THE FIRST STEP OF THE PROCUREMENT. IN THE TECHNICAL JUDGMENT OF THE PROCUREMENT AGENCY, THE PAGE AVIATION TECHNICAL PROPOSAL AS COMPETITIVELY PRICED IN ITS RESPONSE TO THE SECOND STEP, CONSTITUTED THE MOST ADVANTAGEOUS OFFER TO THE GOVERNMENT, PRICE AND OTHER FACTORS CONSIDERED. IN ANY EVENT, THE TECHNICAL EVALUATION CONDUCTED HERE IS NOT SUBJECT TO QUESTION BY OUR OFFICE. AND WHILE YOU DISPUTE THE TECHNICAL ACCURACY OF THAT EVALUATION, WE DO NOT HAVE THE COMPETENCE TO JUDGE THE MERITS OF YOUR CONTENTIONS AGAINST THE CONCLUSIONS REACHED BY THE PROCUREMENT AGENCY. WE HAVE CONSISTENTLY HELD, IN MATTERS SUCH AS INVOLVED HERE, THAT WE WILL NOT SUBSTITUTE OUR JUDGMENT FOR THAT OF THE PROCUREMENT AGENCY IN DETERMINING WHICH BID OR OFFER BEST MEETS THE GOVERNMENT'S NEEDS UNLESS THERE IS CONVINCING EVIDENCE THAT SUCH JUDGMENT WAS IN ERROR. SEE 40 COMP. GEN. 40; ID. 294.