B-165488, JAN. 17, 1969

B-165488: Jan 17, 1969

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PROPOSALS WERE SUBMITTED BY THIOKOL AND AEROJET-GENERAL CORPORATION. PROPOSALS WERE EVALUATED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA WHICH WERE SET FORTH IN THE RFP: "A. YOUR PROPOSAL WILL BE EVALUATED IN A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL MANNER BY A PANEL OF EXPERT PERSONNEL REPRESENTING INTERESTED GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS. THE PANEL WILL UTILIZE A POINT RATING SYSTEM IN SCORING EACH PROPOSAL. THE MAIN GOAL OF THIS EFFORT IS TO DETERMINE THAT PROPOSAL WHICH IS MOST RESPONSIVE TO THE GOVERNMENT'S NEEDS. THE FOLLOWING AREAS WILL BE MOST HEAVILY WEIGHTED: (1) COMPLIANCE WITH REQUIREMENTS OF SAMSO SPECIFICATION CP-45-68-1 INCLUDED IN THE RFP. THE AIR FORCE ADVISES THAT EACH OF THE CONFIGURATION WAS EVALUATED BY THE SOURCE SELECTION EVALUATION BOARD (SSEB) IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FACTORS FOR EVALUATION SET FORTH IN THE RFP.

B-165488, JAN. 17, 1969

TO AEROJET-GENERAL CORPORATION:

YOUR PROTEST AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO THIOKOL CHEMICAL CORPORATION (THIOKOL), UNDER REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP) NO. F04701-68 R- 0231, ISSUED ON APRIL 19, 1968, BY THE SPACE AND MISSILE SYSTEMS ORGANIZATION (AFSC), NORTON AIR FORCE BASE, CALIFORNIA, FOR THE FABRICATION AND DELIVERY OF ATHENA II BOOSTER MOTORS, HAS BEEN FORWARDED TO OUR OFFICE FOR REVIEW.

PROPOSALS WERE SUBMITTED BY THIOKOL AND AEROJET-GENERAL CORPORATION. THIOKOL OFFERED ITS CASTOR IV CONFIGURATION AND AEROJET OFFERED THREE SEPARATE CONFIGURATIONS DESIGNATED AS ALGOL IIB; ALGOL IIC; AND ALGOL IIIA.

PROPOSALS WERE EVALUATED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA WHICH WERE SET FORTH IN THE RFP:

"A. YOUR PROPOSAL WILL BE EVALUATED IN A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL MANNER BY A PANEL OF EXPERT PERSONNEL REPRESENTING INTERESTED GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS. THE PANEL WILL UTILIZE A POINT RATING SYSTEM IN SCORING EACH PROPOSAL. THE MAIN GOAL OF THIS EFFORT IS TO DETERMINE THAT PROPOSAL WHICH IS MOST RESPONSIVE TO THE GOVERNMENT'S NEEDS.

"B. IN THE EVALUATION OF YOUR PROPOSAL, THE FOLLOWING AREAS WILL BE MOST HEAVILY WEIGHTED: (1) COMPLIANCE WITH REQUIREMENTS OF SAMSO SPECIFICATION CP-45-68-1 INCLUDED IN THE RFP; (2) USE OF PROVEN STATE OF-THE ART COMPONENTS, MATERIALS AND PROVEN TECHNIQUES; (3) COST TO THE GOVERNMENT; (4) PAST PERFORMANCE ON OTHER SIMILAR CONTRACTS AND (5) ABILITY TO MEET THE SCHEDULE AS OUTLINED IN THE RFP.

"C. THE AIR FORCE MAY DESIRE TO UTILIZE THE SERVICES OF THE AEROSPACE CORPORATION IN THE TECHNICAL EVALUATION OF YOUR PROPOSAL. IF YOU OBJECT TO SUCH AN EVALUATION, INDICATE THE OBJECTION IN YOUR PROPOSAL.'

THE AIR FORCE ADVISES THAT EACH OF THE CONFIGURATION WAS EVALUATED BY THE SOURCE SELECTION EVALUATION BOARD (SSEB) IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FACTORS FOR EVALUATION SET FORTH IN THE RFP. THE FOLLOWING POINT RATINGS WERE ALLOTTED TO EACH OF THE CONFIGURATIONS:

AEROJET AEROJET AEROJET THIOKOL

ALGOL IIB ALGOL IIC ALGOL IIIA CASTOR IV

705 POINTS 695 POINTS 599 POINTS 718 POINTS THE SOURCE SELECTION ADVISORY COUNCIL (SSAC) ALSO PARTICIPATED IN THE ABOVE EVALUATION.

AS AUTHORIZED BY SSAC, NEGOTIATIONS WERE CONDUCTED WITH AEROJET ON ITS ALGOL IIB CONFIGURATION AND WITH THIOKOL ON ITS CASTOR IV CONFIGURATION. SSAC DETERMINED THAT NEGOTIATIONS SHOULD NOT BE CONDUCTED WITH AEROJET ON ITS ALGOL IIC AND IIIA SINCE THESE CONFIGURATIONS CONTAINED NEW DESIGNS AND UNPROVEN COMPONENTS AND TECHNIQUES WHICH REPRESENTED UNACCEPTABLE PROGRAM RISKS. IN THIS CONNECTION THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S REPORT CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING TECHNICAL INFORMATION REGARDING THE UNACCEPTABLE FEATURES OF THE ALGOL IIC AND ALGOL IIIA CONFIGURATIONS:

"4. THE ALGOL IIC MOTOR CONFIGURATION PROPOSED BY AEROJET GENERAL CORPORATION WAS RESPONSIVE TO THE RFP REQUIREMENTS. AS STATED BY THEM, THE PRIMARY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THEIR ALGOL II B MOTOR AND THEIR ALGOL II C MOTOR IS THE REDESIGNED LIGHTWEIGHT NOZZLE. HOWEVER, THE NOZZLE REDESIGN EFFORT OF THE ALGOL II C MOTOR REPRESENTS A POTENTIAL PROGRAM RISK.

"AEROJET PROPOSES FABRICATING THE LIGHTWEIGHT NOZZLE USING ATJ GRAPHITE FOR THE NOZZLE THROAT INSERT AND A SILICA PHENOLIC MOLDING COMPOUND FOR THE CONVERGENT SECTION. ATJ GRAPHITE BILLETS ARE NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE IN LARGE ENOUGH SIZES TO PERMIT FABRICATION OF THE NOZZLE THROAT INSERT USING PRESENTLY PROVEN FABRICATION TECHNIQUES. BECAUSE OF THE SIZES OF THE NOZZLE THROAT AND LIMITATION OF THE AVAILABILITY OF ATJ GRAPHITE BILLETS, AEROJET PROPOSES COMPLETING THE THROAT INSERT USING A SILICA PHENOLIC MOLDING COMPOUND, WHICH ERODES MORE RAPIDLY THAN ATJ GRAPHITE. THIS PROCEDURE IS A DEPARTURE FROM THE PRESENTLY UTILIZED TECHNIQUES FOR NOZZLE FABRICATION. MORE EXTENSIVE EXPERIENCE IS AVAILABLE WITH MATERIALS USED IN THE ALGOL II B OR CASTOR IV MOTOR. WE, THEREFORE, HAVE A SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER CONFIDENCE IN THOSE MATERIALS AND ASSOCIATED FABRICATION PROCEDURE THAN THOSE PROPOSED FOR THE ALGOL II C NOZZLE.

"AEROJET-GENERAL ALSO PROPOSED A THIRD CONFIGURATION IDENTIFIED AS ALGOL III A. THE SSEB EVALUATION OF THIS MOTOR STATED THAT IT IS THE FURTHEST DEPARTURE FROM A FLIGHT PROVEN DESIGN AND MAY IMPOSE UNACCEPTABLE TECHNICAL RISKS ALONG WITH SCHEDULE PROBLEMS. FURTHER, THE SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN PERFORMANCE WILL REQUIRE ADDITIONAL DIRECTION TO THE INTEGRATING CONTRACTOR (ATLANTIC RESEARCH CORPORATION, COSTA MESA, CALIFORNIA) WHICH IS NOT REQUIRED BY THE OTHER AEROJET DESIGNS AND COULD IMPOSE ADDITIONAL COSTS.

"6. THE ALGOL II C CONFIGURATION PROPOSED BY AEROJET DOES NOT HAVE A 100 PERCENT RELIABILITY RECORD IN LARGE NUMBERS OF SCOUT FLIGHT VEHICLES. THE REDESIGNED NOZZLE PROPOSED BY AEROJET-GENERAL CORPORATION FOR THE ALGOL II C HAS NOT BEEN FABRICATED, TESTED OR FLOWN. THE NOZZLE IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF ANY SOLID ROCKET MOTOR AND CANNOT BE CONSIDERED SEPARATELY FROM A MOTOR PERFORMANCE AND/OR RELIABILITY POINT OF VIEW. WE DO ACKNOWLEDGE THE SUCCESS OF THE ALGOL II B MOTOR AS USED IN THE SCOUT PROGRAM, HOWEVER, THE NOZZLE PROPOSED FOR USE ON THE ALGOL II C WAS NOT THE ONE EMPLOYED IN THE SCOUT PROGRAM. * * *

"7. AEROJET ALLEGES THAT THE DESIGN PROPOSED BY THIOKOL INCLUDES A NEW MOTOR AND NEW NOZZLE AND HAS NO FLIGHT EXPERIENCE. THIS IS NOT TRUE, THE THIOKOL MOTOR DESIGN UTILIZES CURRENT STATE-OF-THE-ART MATERIALS AND PROCESSES WHICH HAVE BEEN FLIGHT PROVEN IN VARIOUS SMALLER MOTOR PROGRAMS.

"THEIR MOTOR MEETS THE RFP IDEAL VELOCITY REQUIREMENT AND EXCEEDS THE V- GAMMA REQUIREMENT FOR THE ATHENA H BOOSTER MOTOR. THIOKOL WILL PROVIDE A THREE (3) MOTOR PREPRODUCTION TEST PROGRAM. THE PRE PRODUCTION TEST PROGRAM AND SCHEDULE IS ADEQUATE FOR THE DEMONSTRATION OF THEIR FULL SCALE CASTOR IV MOTOR.' IT WAS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED THAT NO AMOUNT OF NEGOTIATIONS WOULD HAVE UPGRADED AEROJET'S ALGOL IIC AND IIIA CONFIGURATIONS TO THE LEVEL OF THE ALGOL IIB AND CASTOR IV CONFIGURATIONS.

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IN AIR FORCE'S REPORT DATED DECEMBER 9, 1968, IS ALSO RELEVANT TO THIS PROTEST:

"4. ON 24 JUNE 1968 SEPARATE MEETINGS WERE HELD BY AIR FORCE PROCUREMENT AND TECHNICAL REPRESENTATIVES WITH AEROJET AND THIOKOL. AT THAT TIME AEROJET WAS ADVISED OF THE SSEB AND THE SSAC CONCLUSIONS REGARDING ITS ALGOL IIC AND ALGOL IIIA CONFIGURATIONS. AEROJET DID NOT OBJECT TO THE REMOVAL OF THESE CONFIGURATIONS FROM COMPETITION. FURTHER AT THESE MEETINGS EACH FIRM WAS REQUESTED TO CONSIDER THE EFFECT OF THE FOLLOWING CHANGES ON ITS ACCEPTABLE PROPOSAL:

-A. INITIAL DELIVERY OF THE FIRST MOTOR IN FEBRUARY 1970 RATHER THAN AUGUST 1969.

-B. MINIMUM DOLLAR EXPENDITURE DURING FISCAL YEAR 1969.

-C. INITIAL PROCUREMENT OF SIXTEEN MOTORS AT A DELIVERY RATE OF ONE PER MONTH WITH AN OPTION FOR AN ADDITIONAL BUY OF SIXTEEN MOTORS.

-D. CONTRACTORS SHALL CONSIDER PROVIDING ALL OF THE REQUIRED MOTOR HANDLING DOLLIES.- (THIS PLACED A REQUIREMENT ON CONTRACTOR TO FURNISH THE REQUIRED DOLLIES UNDER THE REVISED PROPOSAL).

"5. AEROJET SUBMITTED A REVISED PROPOSAL DATED 25 JULY 1968 ON THE CONFIGURATION ALGOL IIB ONLY. AEROJET STILL RAISED NO OBJECTION TO THE AIR FORCE DECISION TO REMOVE ITS OTHER PROPOSALS FROM COMPETITION. THE REVISED PROPOSALS OF BOTH AEROJET AND THIOKOL WERE EVALUATED BY THE SSEB AND WERE DETERMINED TO BE TECHNICALLY RESPONSIVE TO THE RFP REQUIREMENTS. THE SSAC REVIEWED THESE EVALUATIONS AND APPROVED AN AWARD TO THIOKOL, WHOSE PROPOSAL OFFERED THE LOWER PRICE.

"6. THIOKOL OFFERED TO FABRICATE AND DELIVER SIXTEEN (16) MOTORS FOR A PRICE OF $1,867,508. THIS WAS $163,585 LOWER THAN THE PRICE OF $2,031,093 OFFERED BY AEROJET FOR EQUIPMENT FABRICATED TO ITS CONFIGURATION ALGOL IIB.

"7. IN ADDITION, THOUGH NOT A FACTOR IN THE AWARD, IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE THIOKOL PRICE WAS $60,433 LOWER THAN A PROJECTED PRICE FOR AEROJET EQUIPMENT FABRICATED TO ITS CONFIGURATION ALGOL IIC. THE PROJECTED PRICE FOR CONFIGURATION ALGOL IIC OF $1,927,941 IS DETERMINED BY ADDING TO THE PRICE OF $1,778,472, THE PRICE AEROJET ORIGINALLY PROPOSED FOR ALGOL IIC EQUIPMENT, THE AMOUNTS OF $29,214 FOR THREE CONTRACTOR FURNISHED DOLLIES AND $120,255 FOR EXTENDING DELIVERIES. BOTH OF THESE AMOUNTS WERE ADDED BY AEROJET TO ITS REVISED PRICE FOR CONFIGURATION ALGOL IIB AND AEROJET HAD STATED THAT THESE CONFIGURATIONS WERE IDENTICAL EXCEPT FOR THE NOZZLE.

"8. THE CONTRACTING OFFICER AWARDED THE CONTRACT TO THIOKOL FOR SIXTEEN (16) MOTORS AT A TOTAL PRICE OF $1,867,508 WITH AN OPTION FOR AN ADDITIONAL SIXTEEN (16) MOTORS FOR A PRICE OF 700,572.'

THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT FURTHER STATES: "HEADQUARTERS AFSC FURTHER FOUND THAT THE AWARD WAS MADE TO THE LOW RESPONSIVE AND RESPONSIBLE OFFEROR, PRICE AND OTHER FACTORS CONSIDERED, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE RFP, AND ADVISED AEROJET OF THE DENIAL OF ITS PROTEST ON 23 OCTOBER 1968.'

THE BASIS FOR AEROJET'S PROTEST AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TOTHIOKOL ARE SET FORTH IN A TELEGRAM DATED SEPTEMBER 23, 1968, TO THE PROCURING ACTIVITY AS FOLLOWS:

"A. AEROJET IS THE LOW BIDDER AT THE PRICE OF $1,778,472 FOR MODEL ALGOL II-C, WHICH TOTALLY CONFORMS TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE RFP.

"B.THE MOTOR PORTION OF THE ALGOL II-C CONFIGURATION (WITH THE EXCEPTION OF ADDED INSULATION THICKNESS TO MEET ATHENA SPIN REQUIREMENTS) HAS A 100 PERCENT RELIABILITY RECORD IN 63 SCOUT FLIGHT TESTS.

"C. THE THIOKOL MOTOR HAS NEVER BEEN FLIGHT TESTED.

"D. AEROJET HAS MANUFACTURED ALGOL MOTORS FOR OVER 10 YEARS.

"E. OUR DELIVERY RECORD IN OTHER AIR FORCE SOLID ROCKET PROGRAMS HAS BEEN IN AN AHEAD-OF-SCHEDULE POSITION FOR YEARS.' AEROJET ALSO ADVISES THAT THE ATJ GRAPHITE WHICH IS TO BE USED IN THE ALGOL IIC NOZZLE IS A STOCK ITEM AVAILABLE FROM A COMMERCIAL SOURCE AND AVAILABLE IN STOCK AT AEROJET, SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA.

BOTH 10 U.S.C. 2304 (G) AND ARMED SERVICES PROCUREMENT REGULATION 3 805.1 (A) REQUIRE DISCUSSIONS WITH OFFERORS WHO SUBMIT PROPOSALS WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE, PRICE AND OTHER FACTORS CONSIDERED. THE TERM "OTHER FACTORS" HAS BEEN HELD TO INCLUDE THE TECHNICAL ACCEPTABILITY OF PROPOSALS. 46 COMP. GEN. 606, 610. THUS, WHETHER A PROPOSAL IS WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE IS NOT LIMITED TO AN APPRAISAL OF PRICE ALONE.

IN OUR VIEW, ANY FIRM'S PROPOSAL MUST BE REGARDED AS WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE UNLESS IT IS SO TECHNICALLY INFERIOR OR OUT OF LINE FROM A PRICE STANDPOINT AS TO PRECLUDE THE POSSIBILITY OF MEANINGFUL NEGOTIATIONS. MUST, HOWEVER, PARTICULARLY WITH RESPECT TO TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS, RECOGNIZE A REASONABLE DEGREE OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION IN DECIDING WHETHER A GIVEN PROPOSAL IS WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE. SEE B-163024, AUGUST 27, 1968. IN OUR VIEW, THE CONCLUSION, THAT BECAUSE OF UNPROVEN TECHNIQUES, MATERIALS AND COMPONENTS, ALGOL IIC AND IIIA WERE NOT WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE OF THE ALGOL IIB AND THE CASTOR IV, DOES NOT TRANSCEND THE ACCEPTABLE LIMITS OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION.

AS INDICATED, NEGOTIATIONS WERE CONDUCTED WITH AEROJET ON THE BASIS OF ITS ALGOL IIB CONFIGURATION AND WITH THIOKOL ON THE BASIS OF ITS CASTOR IV CONFIGURATION. THIOKOL'S CONFIGURATION HAD A HIGHER TECHNICAL SCORE AND A LOWER PRICE THAN THE ALGOL IIB. IT EVIDENTLY WAS AIR FORCE'S JUDGMENT THAT THE GREATER EXPERIENCE WITH THE ALGOL IIB WAS NOT SUFFICIENT TO GIVE THIS PROPOSAL A HIGHER TECHNICAL SCORE THAN THIOKOL'S OFFER. IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES WE CONCLUDE THAT THE AWARD TO THIOKOL IS CONSISTENT WITH APPLICABLE LAW AND REGULATIONS.