B-168050, JAN. 20, 1970

B-168050: Jan 20, 1970

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THE REJECTION OF A LOW PROPOSAL FROM AN UNQUALIFIED OFFEROR UNDER AN URGENT AND CRITICAL PROCUREMENT WHICH PURSUANT TO AIR FORCE REG. 57-6 WAS LIMITED TO QUALIFIED SOURCES IS NOT SUBJECT TO OBJECTION. HOWEVER IT IS SUGGESTED THAT IN FUTURE THE REQUEST SHOULD INDICATE THAT THE PROCUREMENT IS BEING LIMITED TO QUALIFIED SOURCES HAVING PRE-PRODUCTION APPROVAL ON FIRST ARTICLE TESTING. INCORPORATED: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED OCTOBER 3. THE SUBJECT SOLICITATION WAS ISSUED JULY 9. THE CONTRACT WAS AWARDED TO VARO. THE CONTRACTING OFFICER REJECTED YOUR PROPOSAL STATING: "DUE TO CRITICAL APPLICATION OF THE PART REQUIRED SOLICITATION WAS RESTRICTED TO KNOWN QUALIFIED SOURCES WITH SYNOPSIS FOR SUBCONTRACTING INFORMATION ONLY.

B-168050, JAN. 20, 1970

BID PROTEST--QUALIFIED SOURCES DECISION TO IMCO PRECISION PRODUCTS, INC. DENYING PROTEST AGAINST NEGOTIATED AWARD TO VARO, INC; FOR FURNISHING PISTON ASSEMBLIES FOR BOMBRACK EJECTION SYSTEMS ON COMBAT AIRCRAFT TO WARNER ROBINS AIR MATERIEL AREA. THE REJECTION OF A LOW PROPOSAL FROM AN UNQUALIFIED OFFEROR UNDER AN URGENT AND CRITICAL PROCUREMENT WHICH PURSUANT TO AIR FORCE REG. 57-6 WAS LIMITED TO QUALIFIED SOURCES IS NOT SUBJECT TO OBJECTION. HOWEVER IT IS SUGGESTED THAT IN FUTURE THE REQUEST SHOULD INDICATE THAT THE PROCUREMENT IS BEING LIMITED TO QUALIFIED SOURCES HAVING PRE-PRODUCTION APPROVAL ON FIRST ARTICLE TESTING.

TO IMCO PRECISION PRODUCTS, INCORPORATED:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED OCTOBER 3, 1969, WITH ENCLOSURES, PROTESTING AWARD UNDER REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS NO. F09603-70 R-3056 ISSUED BY WARNER ROBINS AIR MATERIEL AREA (WRAMA), DIRECTORATE OF PROCUREMENT AND PRODUCTION, ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, GEORGIA.

THE SUBJECT SOLICITATION WAS ISSUED JULY 9, 1969, PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY CONTAINED IN 10 U.S.C. 2304 (A) (10) FOR 3222 PISTON ASSEMBLIES AND FSN10959128172, AF P/N 65C46133 APPLICABLE TO BOMBRACK EJECTION SYSTEMS USED ON COMBAT AIRCRAFT. THE SOLICITATION RESERVED THE RIGHT FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO ORDER ADDITIONAL FIXED-ORDER QUANTITIES OF 3222, 1611, AND 805 RESPECTIVELY. IMCO'S PROPOSAL OFFERED TO SUPPLY THE INITIAL AWARD QUANTITY (3222 EACH) AT A TOTAL PRICE OF $13,339.08. THE CONTRACT WAS AWARDED TO VARO, INCORPORATED, AT A PRICE OF $18,880.92.

BY LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 29, 1969, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER REJECTED YOUR PROPOSAL STATING:

"DUE TO CRITICAL APPLICATION OF THE PART REQUIRED SOLICITATION WAS RESTRICTED TO KNOWN QUALIFIED SOURCES WITH SYNOPSIS FOR SUBCONTRACTING INFORMATION ONLY. AWARD OF THE REQUIREMENT TO ANY SOURCE OTHER THAN A KNOWN QUALIFIED SOURCE WOULD REQUIRE FIRST ARTICLE INSPECTION AND TESTING. THE 'URGENCY' OF THE REQUIREMENT PRECLUDES THE TIME IT WOULD TAKE TO MANUFACTURE, SUBMIT AND TEST FIRST ARTICLES. BASED ON THE ABOVE, YOUR PROPOSAL HAS BEEN REJECTED." YOU STATE THAT THE REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS DID NOT RESTRICT THE OFFER TO ANY SOURCE AND THAT IT CONTAINED NO PROVISION FOR PRE-PRODUCTION APPROVAL OR FIRST ARTICLE TESTING WHICH WOULD LEAD THE OFFEROR TO THE INFERENCE THAT THE SOLICITATION WAS RESTRICTIVE. YOU CONTEND THAT THE AWARD TO THE HIGHER PROPOSER IS ILLEGAL AND CONTRARY TO THE INTEREST OF COMPETITIVE NEGOTIATION.

THE AIR FORCE, IN JUSTIFICATION OF SOLICITING ONLY THREE QUALIFIED SOURCES, STATES:

"BEFORE THE SOLICITATION WAS ISSUED THE PROCUREMENT WAS SCREENED BY THE INVENTORY MANAGER AND OTHER TECHNICAL PERSONNEL AT WRAMA. THEY DETERMINED THAT THE PISTON ASSEMBLY IS A CRITICAL PART OF THE BOMBRACK EJECTION SYSTEMS. FAILURE OF THIS PART COULD RESULT IN ONLY PARTIALLY RELEASING OF BOMBS AND A RESULTING DANGER TO FLIGHT SAFETY. THEY FURTHER DETERMINED THAT THE MANUFACTURING PROCESSES AND QUALITY CONTROL MUST ASSURE THAT PISTON ASSEMBLY MATERIALS ARE OF UNIFORM HARDNESS AND THAT SURFACE FINISHES ARE SPECIALLY CONTROLLED. TO ASSURE THAT THESE NEEDS WOULD BE MET, AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH AIR FORCE REGULATION 57-6, THE SAME PERSONNEL LIMITED COMPETITION TO THREE QUALIFIED SOURCES. IN LINE WITH THIS DETERMINATION, SYNOPSIS WAS MADE IN THE COMMERCE BUSINESS DAILY FOR SUBCONTRACTING PURPOSE ONLY. * * *

"THE LOW PROPOSAL WAS SUBMITTED BY IMCO, AN UNQUALIFIED SOURCE. COGNIZANT TECHNICAL PERSONNEL THEN REVIEWED THE PROCUREMENT TO DETERMINE IF THE PROCUREMENT COULD BE OPENED TO OTHER SOURCES INCLUDING IMCO. VIEW OF THE CRITICAL USE OF THE PISTON ASSEMBLY, THEY REAFFIRMED THE NEED THAT THE EQUIPMENT BE PROCURED FROM A QUALIFIED SOURCE. QUALIFICATION OF A NEW SOURCE WOULD DELAY INITIAL DELIVERIES SIX MONTHS. INITIAL DELIVERIES FROM A QUALIFIED SOURCE COULD COMMENCE IN TWO MONTHS. IN THE MEAN TIME, THE DELIVERY OF A QUANTITY, GREATER THAN THE INITIAL AWARD QUANTITY, BECAME URGENT. FAILURE TO MAKE THESE SUPPLIES AVAILABLE HAD RESULTED IN A LINE STOPPAGE IN MAINTENANCE OF CERTAIN AIRCRAFT AND COULD RESULT IN GROUNDING OF COMBAT AIRCRAFT IN SOUTH EAST ASIA. THE PROCUREMENT COULD NOT BE DELAYED THE TIME REQUIRED TO QUALIFY IMCO AS A NEW SOURCE. AWARD WAS MADE TO VARO, INC. ON SEPTEMBER 29, 1969."

FURTHERMORE, THE AIR FORCE POINTS OUT THAT THE ABSENCE OF ANY REQUIREMENT IN THE RFP FOR PRE-PRODUCTION APPROVAL OR FIRST ARTICLE TESTING SHOULD HAVE INDICATED THAT COMPETITION WAS LIMITED TO QUALIFIED SOURCES. STATED ABOVE, THE PROCUREMENT WAS SYNOPSIZED IN THE COMMERCE BUSINESS DAILY FOR SUBCONTRACTING PURPOSES ONLY. YOU STATE THAT YOU PICKED UP A COPY OF THE RFP AT A LOCAL PROCUREMENT OFFICE. HAD YOU REQUESTED INFORMATION ON THE PROCUREMENT FROM WRAMA, YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN ADVISED, AS PROVIDED IN ASPR 1-1002.1, OF THE REASONS FOR LIMITING COMPETITION TO SOURCES PREVIOUSLY QUALIFIED. IN VIEW OF THE URGENT CIRCUMSTANCES DESCRIBED ABOVE, WE FIND NO LEGAL OBJECTION TO THE METHOD OF PROCUREMENT UTILIZED BY THE AIR FORCE.

YOU ALSO CONTEND THAT THE PISTON ASSEMBLY IS A SIMPLE PRODUCT WHICH IS WELL WITHIN YOUR MANUFACTURING CAPABILITY. THE AIR FORCE ADVISES, HOWEVER, THAT THIS PART IS SUFFICIENTLY COMPLEX TO REQUIRE CERTAIN TYPES OF MANUFACTURING PROCESSES AND QUALITY CONTROL TO ASSURE THAT ITS NEEDS ARE MET. SINCE WE ARE NOT IN A POSITION TO QUESTION THE TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF THIS ISSUE, WE CANNOT CONCLUDE THAT THE AIR FORCE DETERMINATION CONSTITUTED A CLEAR ABUSE OF DISCRETION.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, WE FIND NO REASON TO QUESTION THE AWARD MADE UNDER THE SUBJECT SOLICITATION. ACCORDINGLY, YOUR PROTEST IS DENIED. HOWEVER, WE REGRET THAT YOU WERE LED TO SUBMIT A PROPOSAL IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE OF THE LIMITATIONS OR COMPETITION. WE ARE SUGGESTING TO THE SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE THAT FUTURE RFP'S INCLUDE INFORMATION ON LIMITATIONS SUCH AS THAT AWARD WILL BE MADE ONLY TO A KNOWN QUALIFIED SOURCE.

TO MR. SECRETARY:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER DATED DECEMBER 4, 1969, FROM THE DEPUTY CHIEF, PROCUREMENT OPERATIONS DIVISION, DIRECTORATE, PROCUREMENT POLICY, DCS/S&L, AFSPPOA, FURNISHING A REPORT ON THE PROTEST OF IMCO PRECISION PRODUCTS, INCORPORATED, UNDER REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS NO. F09603-70-R-3056 ISSUED BY WRAMA (WRPIAA) DIRECTORATE OF PROCUREMENT AND PRODUCTION, ROBINS AFB, GEORGIA.

THERE IS ENCLOSED A COPY OF OUR DECISION TODAY DENYING THE PROTEST. NOTE THE EXPLANATION IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT THAT HAD THE PROTESTOR WRITTEN TO THE CONTRACTING OFFICE FOR A COPY OF THE RFP, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ADVISED, PURSUANT TO ASPR 1-1002.1 OF THE LIMITATIONS ON COMPETITION. HOWEVER, THE ASPR PROVISION ALSO CALLS FOR AVAILABILITY OF THE RFP OTHER THAN BY DIRECT REQUEST TO THE CONTRACTING OFFICE. IN THIS CASE, THE PROTESTOR LEARNED OF THE PROCUREMENT FROM ANOTHER OFFICE. SITUATIONS OF THIS KIND WE BELIEVE IT WOULD BE PREFERABLE TO INCLUDE A STATEMENT IN THE RFP ITSELF INDICATING LIMITATIONS ON COMPETITION SUCH AS THAT ONLY PROPOSALS FROM KNOWN QUALIFIED SOURCES WILL BE CONSIDERED. SEE IN THIS CONNECTION, B 160637, MARCH 13, 1967, COPY ENCLOSED.