B-169650, JUL. 22, 1970

B-169650: Jul 22, 1970

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FIRM THAT PROTESTS DENIAL OF REQUEST FOR CHANGE IN TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION SO THAT IT COULD SUBMIT OFFER COMPLYING WITH SPECIFICATIONS MUST HAVE PROTEST DENIED SINCE DRAFTING OF SPECIFICATIONS TO MEET MINIMUM NEEDS OF GOVT. IS PRIMARILY A FUNCTION OF PROCURING AGENCY AND IN ABSENCE OF CLEAR ABUSE OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION SUCH DETERMINATION WILL NOT BE DISTURBED. ON THE GROUND THAT THE SOLICITATION TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS ARE UNDULY RESTRICTIVE. WE HAVE BEEN ADVISED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY THAT NOTWITHSTANDING YOUR PROTEST. IT WAS NECESSARY TO MAKE AWARD UNDER THE RFP ON JUNE 26. THE SUBJECT RFP WAS FOR FOUR AUTOMATIC CIRCUIT ANALYZERS AND WAS ISSUED ON JANUARY 29. THE RFP WAS AMENDED TO REFLECT SEVERAL SUGGESTED SPECIFICATION CHANGES.

B-169650, JUL. 22, 1970

BID PROTEST -- TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION RESTRICTIVE DECISION TO AUTOMATION DYNAMICS DENYING PROTEST AGAINST RESTRICTIVE SPECIFICATIONS FOR FURNISHING AUTOMATIC CIRCUIT ANALYZERS TO THE NAVY DEPARTMENT. FIRM THAT PROTESTS DENIAL OF REQUEST FOR CHANGE IN TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION SO THAT IT COULD SUBMIT OFFER COMPLYING WITH SPECIFICATIONS MUST HAVE PROTEST DENIED SINCE DRAFTING OF SPECIFICATIONS TO MEET MINIMUM NEEDS OF GOVT. IS PRIMARILY A FUNCTION OF PROCURING AGENCY AND IN ABSENCE OF CLEAR ABUSE OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION SUCH DETERMINATION WILL NOT BE DISTURBED.

TO AUTOMATION DYNAMICS:

BY LETTER DATED MAY 8, 1970, WITH ENCLOSURES, YOU PROTESTED AGAINST ANY AWARD UNDER REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP) NO. N00600-70-R-5309, ISSUED BY THE UNITED STATES NAVY PURCHASING OFFICE, WASHINGTON NAVY YARD, ON THE GROUND THAT THE SOLICITATION TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS ARE UNDULY RESTRICTIVE. WE HAVE BEEN ADVISED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY THAT NOTWITHSTANDING YOUR PROTEST, IT WAS NECESSARY TO MAKE AWARD UNDER THE RFP ON JUNE 26, 1970, DUE TO THE URGENCY OF THE PROCUREMENT.

THE SUBJECT RFP WAS FOR FOUR AUTOMATIC CIRCUIT ANALYZERS AND WAS ISSUED ON JANUARY 29, 1970. IN RESPONSE TO REQUESTS BY 3 PROSPECTIVE OFFERORS, INCLUDING AUTOMATION DYNAMICS, THE RFP WAS AMENDED TO REFLECT SEVERAL SUGGESTED SPECIFICATION CHANGES.

YOUR PROTEST CONCERNS A SPECIFICATION REQUIREMENT, CONTAINED IN SECTIONS 3.1.1 AND 3.1.1.10, FOR THE USE OF DISCRETE COMPONENTS. ALTHOUGH YOU REQUESTED THAT THE SPECIFICATION REQUIREMENT BE CHANGED TO ALLOW THE USE OF INTEGRATED CIRCUITS, THE NAVY DENIED YOUR REQUEST. THE CITED SPECIFICATION SECTIONS PROVIDE:

"3.1.1 CONTROL CONSOLE: *** SOLID-STATE DISCRETE COMPONENT DESIGN SHALL BE INCORPORATED WITH THE USE OF STANDARD PARTS. *** .

"3.1.1.10 LOGIC: THE ANALYZER SHALL CONTAIN SOLID-STATE LOGIC OF DISCRETE COMPONENTS *** ."

BEFORE MAKING YOUR PROTEST TO OUR OFFICE, YOUR POSITION ON THE SPECIFICATION REQUIREMENT FOR DISCRETE COMPONANTS WAS FURNISHED TO THE NAVY PURCHASING OFFICE BY YOUR LETTER DATED FEBRUARY 18, 1970. THE QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS IN THAT LETTER WERE ANSWERED BY THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, PURCHASE DIVISION, WASHINGTON NAVY YARD ON APRIL 3, 1970. THE SUBSTANCE OF THE NAVY'S POSITION IS THAT THE SUBJECT ANALYZERS MUST OPERATE IN A "HOSTILE ELECTRICAL ENVIRONMENT" WHICH WOULD IMPEDE THE RELIABILITY OF INTEGRATED CIRCUITS BEYOND A TOLERABLE DEGREE BUT WHICH WOULD NOT SO IMPEDE THE RELIABILITY OF DISCRETE COMPONENTS. INASMUCH AS YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE CONTENTS OF THE NAVY LETTER, IT WILL NOT BE DISCUSSED IN DETAIL HERE.

YOU PROTEST THAT THE DISCRETE COMPONENT REQUIREMENT PRECLUDED YOUR COMPANY FROM SUBMITTING AN OFFER AND YOU CONTEND THAT IT IS IMPROPER TO RELY ON ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS NOT SPECIFIED IN THE RFP AS A BASIS FOR REJECTING OFFERS, SUCH AS YOURS, CONTEMPLATING THE USE OF INTEGRATED CIRCUITS. IN THIS REGARD, YOU STATE "IF, IN FACT, SUCH A HOSTILE RFI OR EMI ENVIRONMENT DOES EXIST, THEN THERE ARE SEVERAL APPLICABLE SPECIFICATIONS RELATING TO RFI, EMI, AND OTHER INTERFERENCE WHICH SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE SPECIFICATIONS."

FOR REASONS SET OUT BELOW, WE MUST DENY YOUR PROTEST. GENERALLY, THE DRAFTING OF SPECIFICATIONS TO MEET THE MINIMUM NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT IS PRIMARILY A FUNCTION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY AS THAT AGENCY IS UNIQUELY KNOWLEDGEABLE AS TO WHAT WILL SERVE THE GOVERNMENT'S MINIMUM NEEDS IN A GIVEN INSTANCE. BECAUSE OF THIS RESERVATION OF DISCRETION IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY AND FURTHER BECAUSE OUR OFFICE LACKS THE ENGINEERING EXPERTISE NECESSARY FOR THE RESOLUTION OF TECHNICAL FACTUAL DISPUTES, WE WILL NOT DISTURB DETERMINATIONS THAT CERTAIN SPECIFICATIONS ARE REQUIRED TO MEET THE GOVERNMENT'S MINIMUM NEEDS UNLESS SUCH DETERMINATIONS CONSTITUTE A CLEAR ABUSE OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION.

WITH THE FOREGOING IN MIND, WE ARE UNABLE TO DISAGREE WITH THE TECHNICAL CONTENT OF THE SPECIFICATIONS. HOWEVER, IN ORDER THAT YOU MAY BE FULLY ADVISED OF THE NAVY'S POSITION IN THIS REGARD, THERE IS QUOTED BELOW IN AMPLIFICATION OF ITS POSITION AS STATED IN ITS LETTER OF APRIL 3, REAFFIRMATION OF THE TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS SUPPORTING THE SPECIFICATION DENIAL AGAINST THE USE OF INTEGRATED CIRCUITS AS OPPOSED TO DISCRETE COMPONENTS:

"2. *** IC PACKAGES THAT ARE COMPARABLE TO HERMETICALLY SEALED DISCRETE COMPONENT PACKAGES ARE OF THE CERAMIC TYPE. IT MUST BE EMPHASIZED THAT THE AREA OF USAGE IS AN UNCONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT AND NO REQUIREMENT HAS BEEN IMPOSED FOR SPECIAL ENCLOSURES FOR THE COMPLETE ANALYZER, NOR HAS THERE BEEN ANY IMPOSITION OF MILITARY SPECIFICATIONS TO THE SYSTEM.

"3. IT SHOULD BE FURTHER EMPHASIZED THAT THE TERM 'RELIABILITY' HAS A TWOFOLD MEANING: (A) INDIVIDUAL COMPONENT RELIABILITY AS STATED BY MANUFACTURER'S DATA; (B) TOTAL SYSTEM RELIABILITY WHICH INCLUDES BOTH THE COMPONENTS AND THE COMPLETED PRODUCT AS APPLIED.

"4. AS A RESULT OF THIS REVIEW, IT IS DEEMED UNDESIRABLE TO CHANGE OUR TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS. *** ." ..END :