B-165085, FEB. 5, 1969

B-165085: Feb 5, 1969

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TO LING ELECTRONICS: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 13. THE SUBJECT RFP WAS ISSUED ON JULY 30. THE PROCUREMENT/WORK DIRECTIVES REQUESTED AND AUTHORIZED SOLE-SOURCE NEGOTIATION WITH MB ELECTRONICS FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS: "MB ELECTRONICS IS RECOMMENDED AS SOLE SOURCE SINCE (1) THE C90 VIBRATOR IS TO BE USED IN CONJUNCTION WITH AN EXISTING AMPLIFIER/CONTROL SYSTEM PREVIOUSLY MANUFACTURED BY THEM AND (2) THE T589-3KC AUTOMATIC SPECTRUM EQUILIZER (SIC) COULD BE USED IN CONJUNCTION WITH EXISTING MB VIBRATION SYSTEMS FOR SMALL COMPONENTS AND ALSO WITH THE C90 FOR TESTING LARGER ITEMS TO THE REQUIRED RANDOM VIBRATION SPECIFICATIONS. THE ADAPTABILITY OF THESE NEW ITEMS TO EXISTING EQUIPMENT WILL GREATLY REDUCE INSTALLATION COSTS.

B-165085, FEB. 5, 1969

TO LING ELECTRONICS:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 13, 1968, 868 MEW- 1215, PROTESTING AGAINST THE PROPOSED SOLE-SOURCE PROCUREMENT OF A VIBRATION EXCITER SYSTEM AND AN AUTOMATIC SPECTRUM EQUALIZER AND ANALYZER SYSTEM BY THE UNITED STATES ARMY NEW YORK PROCUREMENT AGENCY UNDER REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS NO. DAAG25-69-R-0064.

THE SUBJECT RFP WAS ISSUED ON JULY 30, 1968, PURSUANT TO PROCUREMENT/WORK DIRECTIVES FROM PICATINNY ARSENAL. THE PROCUREMENT/WORK DIRECTIVES REQUESTED AND AUTHORIZED SOLE-SOURCE NEGOTIATION WITH MB ELECTRONICS FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

"MB ELECTRONICS IS RECOMMENDED AS SOLE SOURCE SINCE (1) THE C90 VIBRATOR IS TO BE USED IN CONJUNCTION WITH AN EXISTING AMPLIFIER/CONTROL SYSTEM PREVIOUSLY MANUFACTURED BY THEM AND (2) THE T589-3KC AUTOMATIC SPECTRUM EQUILIZER (SIC) COULD BE USED IN CONJUNCTION WITH EXISTING MB VIBRATION SYSTEMS FOR SMALL COMPONENTS AND ALSO WITH THE C90 FOR TESTING LARGER ITEMS TO THE REQUIRED RANDOM VIBRATION SPECIFICATIONS. THE ADAPTABILITY OF THESE NEW ITEMS TO EXISTING EQUIPMENT WILL GREATLY REDUCE INSTALLATION COSTS. ALSO, SERVICE AND SPARE PARTS ARE AVAILABLE THROUGH AN EXISTING MB SERVICE CONTRACT.' MB ELECTRONICS WAS THE ONLY FIRM RECEIVING A COPY OF THE RFP. ITS PROPOSAL WAS RECEIVED ON AUGUST 19, 1968. HOWEVER, AWARD HAS BEEN WITHHELD PENDING THE DECISION OF OUR OFFICE ON YOUR PROTEST.

IT IS YOUR CONTENTION THAT SOLE-SOURCE NEGOTIATION OF THIS PROCUREMENT IS AN UNREASONABLE RESTRICTION OF COMPETITION AS YOU AND OTHER FIRMS CAN SUPPLY A "SINUSOIDOL VIBRATION TESTING SYSTEM FULLY CAPABLE OF MEETING THE GOVERNMENT'S TESTING REQUIREMENTS. * * *"

IN FURTHER EXPLANATION OF THE DECISION TO LIMIT THIS PROCUREMENT TO MB ELECTRONICS, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE APPEALS AND EVALUATION BOARD, PICATINNY ARSENAL, HAS FURNISHED THE FOLLOWING REPORT:

"2A. A SWITCHING NETWORK IS REQUIRED TO INSURE OPERATION OF THE NEW VIBRATION SYSTEM WITH THE EXISTING SYSTEM D.C. FIELD SUPPLY, CONTROL NETWORK AND AMPLIFIER. ALL FUNCTIONS SUCH AS INTERLOCKS, SAFETY DEVICES, POWER REQUIREMENTS AND COOLING REQUIREMENTS HAVE TO BE PROPERLY CONNECTED AND SWITCHED THROUGH THIS DEVICE TO INSURE PROPER OPERATION OF BOTH SYSTEMS, INCLUDING SAFETY FUNCTIONS. THIS SWITCHING NETWORK IS NOT A STANDARD CATALOG ITEM AND THUS MUST BE ENGINEERED AND MANUFACTURED BY THE SUPPLIER. THEREFORE, IT IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR THIS SECTION TO FORMULATE ANY DETAILED SPECIFICATIONS ON THIS ITEM.

"B. A MATCHING TRANSFORMER IS NECESSARY IN THIS SYSTEM TO PROVIDE PROPER POWER FROM THE EXISTING AMPLIFIER TO THE NEW VIBRATOR TO GENERATE THE FORCE OUTPUT AS DETAILED IN OUR SPECIFICATION. THIS TRANSFORMER WAS DESIGNED BY MB ELECTRONICS IN ORDER TO PROPERLY MATCH THEIR OLDER EXISTING AMPLIFIERS TO NEW VIBRATION EXCITERS. NO DETAILED SPECIFICATIONS WERE AVAILABLE.

"C. INTERLOCK CIRCUITRY AND SAFETY DEVICES SUCH AS AMPLITUDE PROTECTORS, SAFETY MONITORS, DISPLACEMENT LIMITERS, ACCELERATION LIMITERS, OVERTRAVEL SWITCHES, COOLANT FLOW PROTECTION, OUTPUT TUBE PROTECTION, AUTOMATIC SEQUENCING AND SIGNAL CONTROL CIRCUITS ARE BASIC IN ANY VIBRATION TEST SYSTEM AND ARE UNIQUE TO EACH VIBRATION EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURER. OUR EXISTING SYSTEM CONTAINS ALL OF THESE DEVICES AND ANY NEW EQUIPMENT ADDED TO THE SYSTEM WILL REQUIRE EXTENSIVE ENGINEERING MODIFICATION IN ORDER TO FUNCTION PROPERLY. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR THIS SECTION TO DETAIL A SPECIFICATION OF HOW THIS ENGINEERING MODIFICATION IS TO BE ACCOMPLISHED.

"3. OUR PRESENT VIBRATION SYSTEM WAS DESIGNED, MANUFACTURED AND INSTALLED BY MB ELECTRONICS TO A DETAILED PICATINNY ARSENAL SPECIFICATION UNDER AN I.F.B. CONTRACT. OVER THE YEARS, MODIFICATIONS HAVE BEEN MADE TO THIS SYSTEM BY MB ELECTRONICS SUCH AS THE ADDITION OF ADDITIONAL SAFETY AND PROTECTIVE DEVICES AND THE INSTALLATION OF A NEW EXCITER HEAD.

"4. IN VIEW OF THESE FACTS, AND SINCE THIS NEW VIBRATION EQUIPMENT MUST OPERATE AS AN INTEGRAL SYSTEM RATHER THAN AN INDIVIDUAL ENTITY AND SINCE DETAILED SPECIFICATIONS CANNOT BE PREPARED, THE ORIGINAL SUPPLIER REPRESENTS THE ONLY SOURCE FULLY QUALIFIED TO PROVIDE THIS NEW SYSTEM AND MEET ALL THE REQUIREMENTS OF ADAPTABILITY AND PERFORMANCE.'

THE DRAFTING OF SPECIFICATIONS WHICH REFLECT THE MINIMUM NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT, AS WELL AS THE DETERMINATION WHETHER PRODUCTS OFFERED MEET THOSE SPECIFICATIONS, IS PRIMARILY FOR DETERMINATION BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY CONCERNED, TO BE QUESTIONED BY OUR OFFICE ONLY WHEN NOT SUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE. 38 COMP. GEN. 190. IN THE INSTANT CASE, IT IS OUR OPINION THAT THE AGENCY HAS PRESENTED SUFFICIENT UNCONTROVERTED EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT ITS DECISION TO LIMIT THIS PROCUREMENT TO A SOLE SOURCE.

ACCORDINGLY, OUR OFFICE HAS NO OBJECTION TO THE PROPOSED AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO MB ELECTRONICS.