B-168589(2), FEB. 11, 1970

B-168589(2): Feb 11, 1970

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CONTENTION THAT LOW BIDDER DOES NOT FULLY MEET EXPERIENCE QUALIFICATIONS IS NOT BASIS FOR REJECTION WHEN CONTRACTING AGENCY IS SATISFIED THAT BIDDER IS RESPONSIBLE AND CAPABLE OF PERFORMING CONTRACT. TO THE BENDIX CORPORATION: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 27. THE SUBJECT PROCUREMENT IS A MULTIYEAR PROCUREMENT. 874.41 WAS THE NINTH LOW BID RECEIVED. THAT PARAGRAPH PROVIDES: "THE TRANSPONDER SETS CALLED FOR BY THIS INVITATION ARE HIGHLY SPECIALIZED AND COMPLEX EQUIPMENTS. ONLY TWO (2) FIRMS HAVE SUCCESSFULLY PRODUCED THE AN/APX-72 EQUIPMENT. SINCE EXTENSIVE TECHNICAL PREPARATION FOR MANUFACTURE IS REQUIRED. INTERESTED BIDDERS MUST: "1. *HAVE SECRET AND CRYPTO SECURITY CLEARANCES AND FACILITIES "2.

B-168589(2), FEB. 11, 1970

BID PROTEST--BIDDER QUALIFICATIONS DECISION DENYING PROTEST AGAINST MULTIYEAR NEGOTIATED AWARD TO HONEYWELL, INC; LOW BIDDER, FOR FURNISHING TRANSPONDER SETS TO NAVY. CONTENTION THAT LOW BIDDER DOES NOT FULLY MEET EXPERIENCE QUALIFICATIONS IS NOT BASIS FOR REJECTION WHEN CONTRACTING AGENCY IS SATISFIED THAT BIDDER IS RESPONSIBLE AND CAPABLE OF PERFORMING CONTRACT. FACT THAT 22 BIDDERS RESPONDED AND THAT FEW SATISFIED ALL THE LITERAL RESPONSIBILITY REQUIREMENT DOES NOT SUBSTANTIATE THAT EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS ADVERSELY AFFECTED COMPETITION.

TO THE BENDIX CORPORATION:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 27, 1969, AND PREVIOUS CORRESPONDENCE, PROTESTING AGAINST AN AWARD TO ANY BIDDER OTHER THAN THE BENDIX CORPORATION UNDER NAVY INVITATION FOR BIDS N00019-69-B 0269.

THE SUBJECT PROCUREMENT IS A MULTIYEAR PROCUREMENT. THE INVITATION, AS AMENDED, SOLICITED BIDS FOR FURNISHING RECEIVER TRANSMITTERS, MOUNTINGS AND ASSOCIATED DATA DURING EACH OF 3 CONSECUTIVE YEARS. HONEYWELL INC; TAMPA DIVISION, SUBMITTED THE LOWEST OVERALL BID IN THE AMOUNT OF $14,713,319. THE BENDIX CORPORATION BID IN THE AMOUNT OF $18,851,874.41 WAS THE NINTH LOW BID RECEIVED.

THE BENDIX CORPORATION HAS PROTESTED AGAINST AN AWARD TO ANY OTHER BIDDER ON THE GROUNDS THAT NO BIDDER OTHER THAN BENDIX MEETS ALL OF THE QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS IN PARAGRAPH 54 OF THE "ADDITIONAL SOLICITATION INSTRUCTIONS AND CONDITIONS." THAT PARAGRAPH PROVIDES:

"THE TRANSPONDER SETS CALLED FOR BY THIS INVITATION ARE HIGHLY SPECIALIZED AND COMPLEX EQUIPMENTS. ONLY TWO (2) FIRMS HAVE SUCCESSFULLY PRODUCED THE AN/APX-72 EQUIPMENT. SINCE EXTENSIVE TECHNICAL PREPARATION FOR MANUFACTURE IS REQUIRED, INTERESTED BIDDERS MUST:

"1. *HAVE SECRET AND CRYPTO SECURITY CLEARANCES AND FACILITIES

"2. PROVIDE PLANS FOR ACQUISITION OF AND IDENTIFY TYPES OF TOOLING, SPECIAL TOOLING AND TEST EQUIPMENT.

"3. DEMONSTRATE CAPABILITY OF DELIVERING A MINIMUM OF 750 EQUIPMENTS PER MONTH. ALSO PROVIDE INFORMATION, INCLUDING CONTRACT NUMBERS, WHEN COMPARABLE DELIVERY SCHEDULES WERE REQUIRED FOR EQUIPMENT OF SIMILAR COMPLEXITY AND WHETHER THE DELIVERY SCHEDULE WAS MET.

"4. DEMONSTRATE EXISTENCE OF, OR ABILITY TO INSTITUTE RAPIDLY A QUALITY CONTROL PROGRAM MEETING REQUIREMENTS OF MIL-Q-9858A.

"5. FURNISH A RELIABILITY PROGRAM PLAN DEMONSTRATING HOW COMPLIANCE WITH DOD AIMS 64-326B DATED 4 APRIL 1969 WILL BE ACCOMPLISHED. THE PROGRAM PLAN SHALL ALSO COMPLY WITH MIL-STD-785.

"6. HAVE DEVELOPMENT AND PRODUCTION EXPERIENCE IN 'L' BAND TRANSPONDERS FOR MILITARY AIRCRAFT APPLICATION DURING THE PRECEDING FIVE (5) YEARS, AND SUBMIT EVIDENCE THEREOF.

"7. FURNISH A PROFILE OF KEY PERSONNEL TO BE ASSIGNED TO THIS PROGRAM WITH EXPERIENCE RESUMES FOR EACH, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO EXPERIENCE IN LOG VIDEO AMPLIFIERS, POWER SUPPLIES, DIGITAL ENCODING CIRCUITRY, TAPPED DELAY LINES AND MICRO-CIRCUIT INTERFACE TECHNIQUES.

"NOTE:

THE DOCUMENTED EVIDENCE TO BE PROVIDED UNDER THE ABOVE PARAGRAPH MUST BE FURNISHED WITH THE BID. THE ADEQUACY OF SUCH EVIDENCE OF THE BIDDER'S ABILITY TO PERFORM THE PROPOSED CONTRACT WILL BE A PRIMARY FACTOR IN DETERMINING THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE BIDDER. FAILURE TO PROVIDE THE INFORMATION REQUIRED ABOVE WILL BE GROUNDS FOR DISQUALIFICATION.

"*A BIDDER DOES NOT HAVE TO OBTAIN A CRYPTO SECURITY CLEARANCE PRIOR TO BID OPENING BUT MUST FURNISH EVIDENCE THAT A CRYPTO SECURITY CLEARANCE CAN BE OBTAINED IN A TIMELY MANNER AND PRIOR TO AWARD UNDER THIS SOLICITATION."

THE FOREGOING PARAGRAPH PROVIDES THAT THE INFORMATION SOLICITED THEREIN IS FOR THE PURPOSE OF DETERMINING A BIDDER'S RESPONSIBILITY. ALTHOUGH THE PARAGRAPH STATES THAT EVIDENCE OF THE EXPERIENCE MUST BE FURNISHED WITH THE BID AND THAT FAILURE TO PROVIDE THE INFORMATION WILL BE GROUNDS FOR DISQUALIFICATION, OUR OFFICE HAS HELD THAT, AS A GENERAL RULE, A BID SHOULD NOT BE REJECTED MERELY BECAUSE OF THE FAILURE OF THE LOW BIDDER TO MEET THE LITERAL EXPERIENCE QUALIFICATIONS IMPOSED BY AN INVITATION. COMP. GEN. 4. FURTHER, IN 39 COMP. GEN. 173, OUR OFFICE INDICATED THAT IT DOES NOT CONDONE THE REJECTION OF OFFERS FROM RESPONSIBLE, COMPETENT BIDDERS SIMPLY BECAUSE, AS A TECHNICAL MATTER, THEY DO NOT MEET ALL OF THE PRESCRIBED QUALIFICATIONS RELATING TO THEIR RESPONSIBILITY.

BENDIX CONTENDS THAT HONEYWELL DOES NOT SATISFY ITEMS 6 AND 7 OF THE "QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS" PARAGRAPH ABOVE. WITH REGARD TO ITEM 6, THE NAVY HAS RESPONDED:

"HONEYWELL DOES NOT HAVE RECENT L BAND TRANSPONDERS EXPERIENCE, BUT IN VIEW OF THEIR RECENT HIGHER FREQUENCY C BAND EXPERIENCE AND RESULTANT MORE DIFFICULT ENGINEERING ACHIEVEMENTS, THEY HAVE DEMONSTRATED ENGINEERING QUALIFICATIONS EXCEEDING THE THRESHOLD OF EXPERIENCE INTENDED TO BE ESTABLISHED BY THIS CRITERIA. HONEYWELL HAS RECENTLY DESIGNED AND PRODUCED OTHER L BAND ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENTS IN QUANTITY. THEY ARE CONSIDERED TO BE TECHNICALLY QUALIFIED AND FULLY RESPONSIVE TO THIS QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENT." FURTHER, WITH RESPECT TO ITEM 7, THE NAVY HAS SAID:

"IN REGARD TO THE PERSONNEL REQUIREMENT SET FORTH IN PARAGRAPH (7), ABOVE, THE COGNIZANT TECHNICAL PERSONNEL IN NAVAIR HAVE DETERMINED THAT THE PERSONNEL LISTED BY HONEYWELL, INC. HAVE HAD EXPERIENCE DIRECTLY IN DESIGNING LOG VIDEO AMPLIFIERS, POWER SUPPLIES, DIGITAL ENCODING CIRCUITRY, TAPPED DELAY LINES AND MICRO-CIRCUIT INTERFACE TECHNIQUES."

YOU HAVE RESPONDED TO THE NAVY'S STATEMENT WITH RESPECT TO ITEM 6 BY STATING THAT THE NAVY IS DISREGARDING ITS OWN CRITERIA FOR QUALIFICATION IN THAT IT ADMITS THAT HONEYWELL DOES NOT HAVE RECENT "L" BAND TRANSPONDER EXPERIENCE. YOU HAVE RESPONDED TO THE NAVY'S STATEMENT ON ITEM 7 BY STATING THAT THE NAVY IS IN ERROR INSOFAR AS IT STATES THAT HONEYWELL HAS PERSONNEL EXPERIENCED IN THE DESIGN OF LOG VIDEO AMPLIFIERS RELATED TO "L" BAND TRANSPONDERS. WITH RESPECT TO THE LATTER STATEMENT, WE FIND NOTHING IN ITEM 7 OF THE QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS WHICH PROVIDES THAT THE LOG VIDEO AMPLIFIED EXPERIENCE BE RELATED TO "L" BAND TRANSPONDERS. THE ITEM ONLY PROVIDES THAT THE PERSONNEL RESUMES SHOW EXPERIENCE IN LOG VIDEO AMPLIFIERS AND DOES NOT SPECIFY THAT SUCH EXPERIENCE BE RELATED TO A PARTICULAR KIND OF EQUIPMENT. FURTHER, WITH RESPECT TO ITEM 6, THE NAVY HAS INDICATED THAT HONEYWELL HAS HAD EXPERIENCE WITH MORE DIFFICULT EQUIPMENT THAN "L" BAND TRANSPONDERS. IN ANY EVENT, WITH RESPECT TO BOTH ITEMS 6 AND 7, AS WE HAVE INDICATED ABOVE, A BIDDER MAY STILL BE CONSIDERED RESPONSIBLE EVEN THOUGH IT DOES NOT FULLY MEET THE QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS.

THE NAVY IS SATISFIED THAT HONEYWELL IS A RESPONSIBLE BIDDER CAPABLE OF PERFORMING THE SUBJECT CONTRACT. AS INDICATED ABOVE, REJECTION OF ITS BID BECAUSE IT DOES NOT STRICTLY CONFORM TO THE EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS SPECIFIED IN THE "QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS" CLAUSE WOULD NOT BE PROPER.

YOU HAVE SUGGESTED IN THE ALTERNATIVE TO THE BASIC PROTEST THAT THE INVITATION SHOULD BE FOUND DEFECTIVE AND READVERTISED. APPARENTLY, THIS WOULD BE ON THE BASIS THAT THE PROVISIONS OF THE QUALIFICATIONS CLAUSE ARE NOT BEING FOLLOWED. HOWEVER, 22 BIDDERS RESPONDED TO THE INVITATION AND, ACCORDING TO THE NAVY, FEW OF THEM CAN SATISFY ALL OF THE LITERAL RESPONSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS. IN VIEW OF THE NUMBER OF BIDDERS, THE EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENT DOES NOT APPEAR TO HAVE ADVERSELY AFFECTED COMPETITION. ACCORDINGLY, READVERTISEMENT WOULD NOT BE APPROPRIATE IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES.