B-163200, MAR. 12, 1968

B-163200: Mar 12, 1968

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SINCE PROTESTANT PRIOR TO SUBMITTING PROPOSAL WAS ONE OF SEVERAL PROSPECTIVE SUPPLIERS CONTACTED PURSUANT TO UNSOLICITED PROPOSAL PROCEDURE IN PAR. 4-101 (C) ASPR. NAVY WAS NOT OBLIGATED TO SAFEGUARD SUCH DATA. AT THE TIME OF SUBMISSION THE PROPOSAL DID NOT BEAR ANY RESTRICTIVE INDICIA SUCH FAILURE IN THE FIRST INSTANCE INDICATES THAT DATA WAS NOT THEN CONSIDERED PROPRIETARY. REVIEW INDICATES THAT TERMS OF THE REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS WERE TOO BROAD AND GENERAL TO HAVE CONVEYED ANY BENEFICIAL INFORMATION TO A PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTOR AND THEREFORE PROTESTANT WAS NOT PREJUDICED BY PUBLICATION. PROTEST IS DENIED. SCHUYLER AND BEVERIDGE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED DECEMBER 28. YOU HAVE REQUESTED THAT THIS OFFICE TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION TO PREVENT THE CARRYING OUT OF THE AWARDED CONTRACT OR FURTHER DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION WHICH WAS FIRST SUPPLIED BY QUEST IN AN UNSOLICITED PROPOSAL SUBMITTED TO THE NAVAL SHIPS ENGINEERING CENTER UNDER THE CORPORATION'S COVER LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 27.

B-163200, MAR. 12, 1968

BIDS - PROPRIETARY DATA, ETC. DECISION DENYING PROTEST OF QUEST ELECTRONICS CORP. THAT GOVT. MISUSED PROPRIETARY INFORMATION IN REQUEST FOR QUOTATIONS ON STUDY OF CIRCUIT BREAKERS FOR SOLID STATE ELECTRICAL SYSTEM FOR NAVY. SINCE PROTESTANT PRIOR TO SUBMITTING PROPOSAL WAS ONE OF SEVERAL PROSPECTIVE SUPPLIERS CONTACTED PURSUANT TO UNSOLICITED PROPOSAL PROCEDURE IN PAR. 4-101 (C) ASPR, NAVY WAS NOT OBLIGATED TO SAFEGUARD SUCH DATA. AT THE TIME OF SUBMISSION THE PROPOSAL DID NOT BEAR ANY RESTRICTIVE INDICIA SUCH FAILURE IN THE FIRST INSTANCE INDICATES THAT DATA WAS NOT THEN CONSIDERED PROPRIETARY. REVIEW INDICATES THAT TERMS OF THE REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS WERE TOO BROAD AND GENERAL TO HAVE CONVEYED ANY BENEFICIAL INFORMATION TO A PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTOR AND THEREFORE PROTESTANT WAS NOT PREJUDICED BY PUBLICATION. PROTEST IS DENIED.

TO BROWNE, SCHUYLER AND BEVERIDGE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED DECEMBER 28, 1967, AND ENCLOSURES, PROTESTING ON BEHALF OF QUEST ELECTRONICS CORPORATION THE GOVERNMENT'S MISUSE OF PROPRIETARY INFORMATION IN REQUEST FOR QUOTATION (RFQ) NO. N00140-68-Q-0029, ISSUED BY THE NAVY PURCHASING OFFICE, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, ON JULY 31, 1967, FOR A RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT STUDY OF CIRCUIT BREAKERS FOR SOLID STATE ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS.

YOU HAVE REQUESTED THAT THIS OFFICE TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION TO PREVENT THE CARRYING OUT OF THE AWARDED CONTRACT OR FURTHER DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION WHICH WAS FIRST SUPPLIED BY QUEST IN AN UNSOLICITED PROPOSAL SUBMITTED TO THE NAVAL SHIPS ENGINEERING CENTER UNDER THE CORPORATION'S COVER LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 27, 1967. YOU STATE THAT BY TELEGRAM DATED JUNE 22, 1967, QUEST ADVISED THE NAVAL ACTIVITIES INVOLVED IN THIS MATTER THAT THE DATA IN ITS PROPOSAL SHOULD NOT BE DISCLOSED IN A COMPETITIVE PROCUREMENT SINCE IT WAS CONSIDERED TO BE PROPRIETARY TO QUEST AND, THAT A FORMAL RESTRICTIVE LEGEND WAS FORWARDED WITH THE REQUEST THAT IT BE AFFIXED TO THE PROPOSAL.

THE VIEW IS EXPRESSED BY THE CORPORATION'S PRESIDENT THAT THE MISUSE OF QUEST'S PROPRIETARY DATA IS EVIDENCED BY THE FACT THAT VARIOUS SECTIONS OF THE REFERENCED RFQ ARE IDENTICAL TO QUEST'S ORIGINAL PROPOSAL. IN THIS REGARD HE SPECIFICALLY CONTENDS AS FOLLOWS: "EFFORT AND SCHEDULE ,THE REFERENCED PROPOSAL SPECIFIES SIX (6) ENGINEERING MAN MONTHS OF EFFORT OVER A SIX (6) MONTH SCHEDULE. THE RFQ CALLS FOR 1000 MAN-HOURS OF TECHNICAL EFFORT- (PARAGRAPH 5, PAGE 3). IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT 1000 MAN HOURS IS SIX (6) MAN MONTHS. THE RFQ, SECTION 3.0, PARAGRAPH 46.1-3C REQUIRES -TIME OF PERFORMANCE- TO BE -NOT LATER THAN SIX (6) MONTHS AFTER EFFECTIVE DATE OF RESULTANT CONTRACT-. "REPORTS "QUEST'S COVER LETTER (PARAGRAPH 3) AND THE PROPOSAL (PAGE 2, PARAGRAPH 2) CALL FOR BIMONTHLY PROGRESS REPORTS, AND A FINAL ENGINEERING REPORT. THE RFQ DATA REQUIREMENTS LIST (PAGE 32) CALLS FOR BI-MONTHLY PROGRESS REPORTS, AND A FINAL REPORT. "TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS AND APPROACHES "1. THE PROPOSAL STATES ON PAGE 1, -IT IS, THEREFORE THE PURPOSE OF THE PROPOSED STUDY, TO CONSIDER ELECTRONIC AND ELECTRICAL MEANS FOR ACHIEVING THE SAME DEGREE OF RELIABLE SYSTEM PROTECTION, BUT WITH AN IMPROVED "TRIP" CHARACTERISTIC, WHICH OPERATES AT LOWER LEVELS OF OVERCURRENT, AND WITHIN SHORTER PERIODS OF TIME.-"THE RFQ PARAPHRASES THIS OBJECTIVE ON PAGE 5, PARAGRAPH 1.A.; - INVESTIGATION OF ALL PRESENT NAVY TYPE CIRCUIT BREAKERS ....... WITH A VIEW TOWARD IMPROVING THEIR "TRIP" CHARACTERISTICS (LOWER LEVEL OVERCURRENT OPERATION, SHORTER AND MORE CONSISTENT OPERATING TIMES AND POSSIBLE FAULT CURRENT LIMITING./- "2. THE PROPOSAL STATES (IN PARAGRAPH 4, SECTION 3.0, PAGE 3) A POTENTIALLY PATENTABLE MEANS FOR ACHIEVING THIS OBJECTIVE: -ONE EXAMPLE OF HYBRID, SYSTEM WOULD INCLUDE A STATIC CIRCUIT BREAKER (SCB), AND ELECTROMECHANICAL CIRCUIT BREAKER (ECB), AND AN INSERTABLE SERIES IMPEDANCE.- "THE RFQ SCOPE (PAGE 5, PARAGRAPH 1.C) USES THE IDENTICAL WORDS TO DESCRIBE THE -NOVEL- REQUIREMENT: -DETERMINATION OF THE EFFECTIVENESS AND PRACTICALITY OF EMPLOYING A COMBINATION OF DEVICES SUCH AS STATIC CIRCUIT BREAKER, AN ELECTROMECHANICAL CIRCUIT BREAKER AND INSERTABLE SERIES IMPEDANCE THROUGH SOLID STATE CONTROL.- "THE REFERENCE TO SOLID STATE CONTROL (OF THE PRECEDING PARAGRAPH) IS ALSO TAKEN FROM THE PROPOSAL PARAGRAPH 5, PAGE 1. "3. THE PROPOSAL COVERS FASTEST PRACTICAL OVERLOAD CURRENT SENSING METHODS' ON PAGE 1, PARAGRAPH 5. THE RFQ COVERS THE SAME MATERIAL ON PAGE 5, PARAGRAPH 1D. "4. THE PROPOSAL COVERS - COMPATIBILITY PROBLEMS' ON PAGE 4, PARAGRAPH 1. THE RFQ COVERS THE SAME PROBLEMS ON PAGE 5, PARAGRAPH 1E. "5. THE PROPOSAL COVERS -COST EFFECTIVENESS TRADE-OFFS' ON PAGE 2, SECTION 2, PARAGRAPH 2. THE RFQ COVERS THE SAME PROBLEMS ON PAGE 5, PARAGRAPH 1.C.'

IN A REPORT TO THIS OFFICE THE NAVY ASSERTS THAT PRIOR TO THE SUBMISSION OF A PROPOSAL BY QUEST SEVERAL PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTORS, INCLUDING QUEST, WERE CONTACTED IN THE HOPE OF DEVELOPING THEIR RESPECTIVE INTERESTS IN THIS MATTER, AND ACCORDINGLY, NAVY VIEWSQUEST'S PROPOSAL AS A PRODUCT OF THE GOVERNMENT'S INFORMAL SOLICITATION. IN THIS REGARD ARMED SERVICES PROCUREMENT REGULATION (ASPR) 4-101 (C) EXCLUDES FROM THE DEFINITION OF THE TERM "UNSOLICITED PROPOSAL" ONE WHICH IS SUBMITTED IN RESPONSE TO THE GOVERNMENT'S INFORMAL SOLICITATION. THEREFORE, IRRESPECTIVE OF WHETHER QUEST'S PROPOSAL WAS THE PRODUCT OF ORIGINAL THINKING AND THE PROPERTY OF THAT CORPORATION, IT APPEARS THAT THE NAVY WAS NOT OBLIGATED TO SAFEGUARD SUCH DATA UNDER THE PROCEDURES GOVERNING THE RECEIPT, HANDLING, AND DISPOSITION OF UNSOLICITED PROPOSALS PURSUANT TO ASPR 4-106.1 (E).

THE PROCUREMENT REGULATIONS FURTHER PROVIDE THAT IF A PROPOSAL, WHETHER SOLICITED OR UNSOLICITED, INCLUDES DATA WHICH THE OFFEROR DOES NOT WANT DISCLOSED TO THE PUBLIC FOR ANY PURPOSE OR USED BY THE GOVERNMENT FOR ANY PURPOSE OTHER THAN EVALUATION OF THE PROPOSAL, HE SHALL AFFIX THE APPROPRIATE RESTRICTIVE LEGEND THERETO. ASPR 3-507.1 (A). THE RECORD ESTABLISHES THAT AT THE TIME THE QUEST PROPOSAL WAS SUBMITTED IT DID NOT BEAR ANY RESTRICTIVE LEGEND OR OTHER INDICATION THAT IT WAS CONSIDERED CONFIDENTIAL. WHILE QUEST REQUESTED, APPARENTLY AFTER IT LEARNED OF THE NAVY'S INTENTION TO SOLICIT PROPOSALS, THAT THE ORIGINAL PROPOSAL HAVE THE RESTRICTIVE NOTICE ATTACHED, THE FAILURE TO INCORPORATE IT IN THE FIRST INSTANCE TENDS TO INDICATE THAT IT WAS NOT THEN REGARDED AS CONFIDENTIAL OR PROPRIETARY.

IRRESPECTIVE OF THE QUESTION WHETHER A PROPOSAL IS IN FACT THE PRODUCT OF ORIGINAL THINKING AND THE PROPERTY OF A PARTICULAR ORGANIZATION, IT IS OUR POSITION IN CASES OF THIS NATURE THAT THE LEGAL BASIS FOR PROTECTING PROPRIETARY INFORMATION IS THAT THE RECIPIENT GAINED SUCH INFORMATION THROUGH A CONFIDENTIAL DISCLOSURE. SEE OUR DECISION B-156727, OCTOBER 7, 1965, AND THE COURT DECISIONS CITED THEREIN. FOR THE FOREGOING REASONS WE ARE UNABLE TO CONCLUDE THAT ANY USE NAVY MAY HAVE MADE OF QUEST'S PROPOSAL WAS IMPROPER.

THE NAVY'S REPORT ALSO REVEALS THAT PRIOR TO ISSUANCE OF THE REFERENCED RFQ THE PROPOSAL WAS REVIEWED FOR THE PURPOSE OF DETERMINING WHETHER IT CONTAINED INFORMATION WHICH WAS PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN TO THE NAVY, AND RESPONSIBLE AND KNOWLEDGEABLE TECHNICAL PERSONNEL CONCLUDED THAT NO SUCH INFORMATION WAS CONTAINED THEREIN.

THE COMMANDING OFFICER AND DIRECTOR OF THE NAVAL APPLIED SCIENCE LABORATORY HAS ALSO REVIEWED THE CORPORATION'S CONTENTIONS RELATIVE TO THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE RFQ AND ITS PROPOSAL. FOR THE REASONS SET FORTH BELOW HE HAS CONCLUDED THAT: (1) THE RFQ DOES NOT COMPROMISE INFORMATION WHICH IS PROPRIETARY TO QUEST AND (2) A SOLE SOURCE PROCUREMENT WITH THE CORPORATION WOULD HAVE BEEN IMPROPER. HE STATES, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

* * * * * * * "2. THE QUEST PROPOSAL WAS ORIGINALLY FORWARDED TO THE LABORATORY BY NAVSEC FOR REVIEW AND COMMENTS. IN GENERAL THE PROPOSAL WAS CONSIDERED SUFFICIENT IN SCOPE TO WARRANT A REQUISITION FOR THE STUDY AND FUNDS WERE MADE AVAILABLE. CONVERSATIONS WERE THEN HELD BETWEEN THE LABORATORY TECHNICAL AND PROCUREMENT PERSONNEL AND WASHINGTON TECHNICAL AND PROCUREMENT PERSONNEL TO DETERMINE WHETHER SUFFICIENT JUSTIFICATION EXISTED TO INITIATE A SOLE SOURCE PROCUREMENT ACTION BASED ON THE PURPORTED UNSOLICITED PROPOSAL.

* * * * * * * "4. IT WAS FURTHER DETERMINED THAT CRITERIA OF ASPR 4- 106.2 (FOR JUSTIFYING SOLE SOURCE PROCUREMENT) WERE NOT MET BY THE QUEST PROPOSAL. THE APPROACH OFFERED BY QUEST DID NOT INDICATE A UNIQUE AND SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENT OR NEW IDEA TOWARD A SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM. THEREFORE THE DETERMINATION MADE WAS THAT THE PROPOSAL WAS ESSENTIALLY ONLY AN OFFER TO CONDUCT A STUDY THAT WAS DESIRED BY THE NAVY. BASED ON THE FACTORS ABOVE, IT WAS PROPER THAT A COMPETITIVE PROCUREMENT BE INSTITUTED. "5. SINCE THE SUBJECT OF THE NASL REQUISITION SUBMITTED TO NPONY WAS A STUDY IN THE SAME AREA AS THE QUEST PROPOSAL IT NECESSARILY CONTAINED TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS SIMILAR TO SOME OF THOSE OUTLINED IN THE QUEST PROPOSAL. LONG BEFORE THE QUEST PROPOSAL WAS SUBMITTED THE GOVERNMENT HAD REALIZED THE IMPORTANCE OF A STUDY OF CIRCUIT BREAKERS OF ALL TYPES FOR PROTECTION OF SOLID STATE ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS. THE PROBLEM OF BRANCH CIRCUIT FAULT ISOLATION FOR SUCH SYSTEMS HAD BEEN DISCUSSED WITH THE LEADING COMPANIES IN THE FIELD SUCH AS GENERAL ELECTRIC, WESTINGHOUSE, VARO, BORG-WARNER, ELECTRO-SOLIDS AND OTHERS. NONE OF THE IDEAS OR APPROACHES TO THE PROBLEMS PRESENTED IN THE RFQ ARE NEW. ALL SUCH IDEAS HAVE BEEN DISCUSSED WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF THE COMPANIES CITED. ALL SUCH IDEAS ARE COMMON KNOWLEDGE IN THE INDUSTRY AND HAVE BEEN SO FOR YEARS. THE PURPOSE OF THE REQUIRED STUDY IS TO DETERMINE THE MERIT OF THE APPLICATION OF THESE IDEAS AND ANY NEW IDEAS THAT MAY BE GENERATED BY THE STUDY. THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS RESPECTIVELY REFUTE EACH OF QUEST'S CLAIMS TO SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THEIR PROPOSAL AND THE RFQ:

"A. EFFORT AND SCHEDULE - QUEST CLAIMS THEIR -PROPOSAL SPECIFIES SIX ENGINEERING MAN-MONTHS OF EFFORT ...-. THIS IS NOT SO. THE PROPOSAL CITES A PRICE AND A SIX MONTH SCHEDULE OF PERFORMANCE. THE RFQ LEVEL OF EFFORT AND PERIOD OF PERFORMANCE WERE BASED ON AVAILABLE FUNDS AND ENGINEERING JUDGMENT. THE LABORATORY WISHES TO POINT OUTTHAT ALTHOUGH THE CLAIM IS MADE THAT THE QUEST PROPOSAL AND RFQ ESTIMATES ARE THE SAME, THEIR PRICE QUOTE SUBMITTED WITH THE PROPOSAL WAS $12,000.00 AND THEIR QUOTE IN RESPONSE TO THE RFQ WAS ALMOST DOUBLE THIS FIGURE.

"B. REPORTS - BI-MONTHLY PROGRESS REPORTS AND A FINAL REPORT ARE COMMONLY REQUIRED IN R-AND-D STUDY CONTRACTS. THIS REQUIREMENT IS NOT UNIQUE, PROPRIETARY OR SIGNIFICANT. CITATION OF THIS AS EVIDENCE OF QUEST'S CLAIM IS INSIGNIFICANT.

"C. TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS AND APPROACHES

"/1) THE TERMINOLOGY -TRIP CHARACTERISTICS' IS COMMONLY ACCEPTED USAGE BY CIRCUIT BREAKER MANUFACTURERS AND CONSUMERS AS THE TRIP TIME/CURRENT CHARACTERISTICS OF CIRCUIT BREAKERS. IT IS NOTED THAT THE PARAGRAPH IN THE RFQ CONTAINING THE TERM -TRIP- CHARACTERISTICS ALSO SPECIFIES THAT THE CONTRACTOR'S EFFORT SHALL INCLUDE, BUT NOT BE LIMITED TO, INVESTIGATION OF ALL PRESENT NAVY TYPE CIRCUIT BREAKERS, THEIR RATING, TIME-CURRENT CHARACTERISTICS, OVERCURRENT AND SHUNT TRIP DESIGN FEATURES AND ALSO MENTIONS POSSIBLE FAULT CURRENT LIMITING. THIS IS MUCH BROADER AND MORE EXPLICIT THAN THE QUEST STATEMENT AND CANNOT, IN ANY WAY, BE CONSIDERED PROPRIETARY OR PARAPHRASED.

"/2) THE IDEA OF EMPLOYING A COMBINATION OF DEVICES SUCH AS STATIC CIRCUIT BREAKERS, ELECTROMECHANICAL CIRCUIT BREAKERS AND INSERTABLE SERIES IMPEDANCES IS BY NO MEANS NEW OR NOVEL. AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE USE OF AN INSERTABLE SERIES IMPEDANCE CIRCUIT WAS PUBLISHED IN ELECTRONIC DESIGN DATED 29 MARCH 1966, AS SHOWN IN ENCLOSURE (2). THESE IDEAS CANNOT THEREFORE BE CONSIDERED PROPRIETARY. THERE IS NO MENTION OF SOLID STATE CONTROL IN PARAGRAPH 5, PAGE 1 OF THE QUEST PROPOSAL, AS STATED IN THEIR PROTEST. EVEN IF IT WERE MENTIONED, SOLID STATE CIRCUITRY IS COMMON IN CONTROL DESIGN AND HAS BEEN EMPLOYED FOR MANY YEARS.

"/3) THE SENSING METHOD PROPOSED BY QUEST * * * WAS NOT MENTIONED IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM IN THE NASL REQUISITION OR THE RFQ. QUEST'S PROTEST ON THIS POINT IS THEREFORE INVALID.

"/4) COMPATIBILITY PROBLEMS BETWEEN SOLID STATE DEVICES AND EQUIPMENT AND OTHER ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT ARE WELL KNOWN. THE LABORATORY IS PRESENTLY ENGAGED IN ANALYZING AND RESOLVING SUCH PROBLEMS, E.G., STATIC INVERTER AND SINS COMPATIBILITY PROBLEMS. COMPATIBILITY AS DISCUSSED IN THE NASL REQUISITION CANNOT THEREFORE BE CONSIDERED UNIQUE OR UNEXPECTED.

"/5) COST EFFECTIVENESS IS ALWAYS TO BE CONSIDERED IN STUDIES OF THIS TYPE AND IS USUALLY SPECIFIED. HOWEVER, THE PHRASE -COST EFFECTIVENESS' WAS NOT MENTIONED IN THE QUEST PROPOSAL AND THERE WAS NO MENTION OF TRADEOFF IN THE NASL REQUISITION, AS WAS IMPLIED BY THE QUEST PROTEST.'

IN ADDITION TO THE ABOVE COMPARISON OF YOUR ORIGINAL PROPOSAL WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE SOLICITATION, WE ARE IMPRESSED BY THE FACT, REPORTED BY THE NAVY, THAT TWO OF THE FIVE PROPOSALS RECEIVED IN RESPONSE TO THE SOLICITATION (BOTH OF WHICH WERE LOWER IN AMOUNT THAN QUEST-S) WERE CONSIDERED UNACCEPTABLE BECAUSE THEY FAILED TO INDICATE IN DETAIL HOW THE DESIRED STUDY WAS TO BE CONDUCTED. IN THIS CONNECTION NASL REPORTED THAT ONE OF THOSE PROPOSALS "PARAPHRASES INFORMATION GIVEN IN THE RFQ WITHOUT PRESENTING PROPOSED METHODS OR DETAILED APPROACHES TO THE OBJECTIVES SET FORTH. NEGOTIATION WITH THIS FIRM IS NOT CONSIDERED WARRANTED SINCE A NEW PROPOSAL WOULD BE REQUIRED RATHER THAN MERE AMPLIFICATION OF THE SUBMITTED PROPOSAL.' IN THE LIGHT OF THIS CONCLUSION, IT SEEMS CLEAR THAT THE TERMS OF THE RFQ WERE TOO BROAD AND GENERAL TO BE CONSIDERED AS CONVEYING ANY SUBSTANTIALLY BENEFICIAL INFORMATION TO ANY OTHER PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTOR, AND WE ARE THEREFORE UNABLE TO SEE HOW QUEST SUFFERED ANY MATERIAL PREJUDICE FROM THE PUBLICATION OF THE RFQ.

WHEN WE ARE REQUIRED TO CONSIDER DISPUTES INVOLVING TECHNICAL OR SCIENTIFIC CONCEPTS AS TO WHICH EXPERTS IN THE FIELD ARE IN DISAGREEMENT, WE ARE BOUND TO ACCORD SIGNIFICANT WEIGHT TO THE ADMINISTRATIVE POSITION ARRIVED AT AFTER DUE CONSIDERATION BY THE GOVERNMENT'S PROCUREMENT OFFICIALS AND THEIR QUALIFIED TECHNICAL ADVISERS WHO ARE CHARGED WITH THE RESPONSIBILITY TO ACT IN SUCH MATTERS. EXAMINATION AND COMPARISON OF YOUR PROPOSAL WITH THE REFERENCED RFQ HAS REVEALED NO BASIS ON WHICH WE WOULD FEEL JUSTIFIED IN DISAGREEING WITH THE NAVY'S REFUTATION OF THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN QUEST'S PROPOSAL AND THE RFQ.

INASMUCH AS WE ARE UNABLE TO CONCLUDE THAT YOUR PROPOSAL WAS IN FACT SUBMITTED IN CONFIDENCE, AND SINCE WE ACCEPT THE NAVY'S CONSIDERED OPINION THAT THE DATA INVOLVED IS NOT PROPRIETARY, THERE IS NO BASIS FOR THIS OFFICE TO QUESTION THE DEPARTMENT'S ACTIONS IN THIS CASE. ACCORDINGLY, YOUR PROTEST IS DENIED.