B-170038(2), MAR 29, 1971

B-170038(2): Mar 29, 1971

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SECRETARY: ENCLOSED IS A COPY OF OUR DECISION OF TODAY RELATIVE TO A PROTEST BY MILITARY BASE MANAGEMENT OF NEW JERSEY (MBM). YOUR ATTENTION IS DIRECTED TO VARIOUS QUESTIONABLE NEGOTIATING PROCEDURES USED. IT APPEARS THAT THE MANNING CHARTS WERE CONSIDERED IN DETERMINING THE MANAGEMENT JUDGMENT AND ADEQUACY OF THE OFFEROR'S KNOWLEDGE OF THE REQUIREMENTS. THE CHARTS WERE CONSIDERED AS AN "OTHER FACTOR. THERE WAS NOTHING IN THE SOLICITATION TO SUGGEST THAT EITHER OF THESE METHODS WAS TO BE EMPLOYED IN THE EVALUATION OF OFFERS. IF THE REASON AN OFFEROR IS CONSIDERED TO BE OUTSIDE THE COMPETITIVE RANGE IS ONE OF NONRESPONSIBILITY. ONCE THE MANNING CHARTS HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED IN EVALUATING THE "OTHER FACTORS.

B-170038(2), MAR 29, 1971

TO MR. SECRETARY:

ENCLOSED IS A COPY OF OUR DECISION OF TODAY RELATIVE TO A PROTEST BY MILITARY BASE MANAGEMENT OF NEW JERSEY (MBM), UNDER REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP) N00421-70-R-7568, ISSUED BY THE NAVAL AIR STATION, PATUXENT RIVER, MARYLAND ON MARCH 4, 1970, FOR MESS ATTENDANT SERVICES FOR THE PERIOD FROM JULY 1, 1970, TO JUNE 30, 1971.

WHILE, FOR THE REASONS STATED THEREIN, WE DID NOT FEEL THAT WE SHOULD REQUIRE CANCELLATION OF THE CONTRACT AWARDED TO MANPOWER, INC., YOUR ATTENTION IS DIRECTED TO VARIOUS QUESTIONABLE NEGOTIATING PROCEDURES USED, AS DESCRIBED IN OUR DECISION AND SET OUT BELOW. THUS, IT APPEARS THAT THE MANNING CHARTS WERE CONSIDERED IN DETERMINING THE MANAGEMENT JUDGMENT AND ADEQUACY OF THE OFFEROR'S KNOWLEDGE OF THE REQUIREMENTS. ADDITIONALLY, THE CHARTS WERE CONSIDERED AS AN "OTHER FACTOR," SINCE THE CONTRACTING OFFICER BASED HIS EVALUATION ON THE FACT THAT MANPOWER OFFERED THE "GREATEST TOTAL HOURS TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS AT THE LOWEST COST." HOWEVER, THERE WAS NOTHING IN THE SOLICITATION TO SUGGEST THAT EITHER OF THESE METHODS WAS TO BE EMPLOYED IN THE EVALUATION OF OFFERS. WE THINK THAT ONCE IT HAS BEEN DETERMINED THAT AN OFFEROR'S MANNING CHART INDICATES HIS UNDERSTANDING OF, AND HIS ABILITY TO FULFILL, THE CONTRACT REQUIREMENTS, INCLUDING WAGE RATES AND OTHER FACTORS DISCUSSED IN THE DECISION, HE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED TO BE IN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE FOR NEGOTIATION PURPOSES, AND THEREAFTER THE LOWEST OVERALL PRICE SHOULD BE THE REMAINING FACTOR IN DETERMINING THE LOWEST RESPONSIBLE OFFEROR. CF. 43 COMP. GEN. 353, 370 (1963); B 160486, JANUARY 8, 1968. CONVERSELY, IF THE REASON AN OFFEROR IS CONSIDERED TO BE OUTSIDE THE COMPETITIVE RANGE IS ONE OF NONRESPONSIBILITY, THEN A DETERMINATION OF NONRESPONSIBILITY UNDER ASPR 1-904.1 SHOULD BE MADE. IN OTHER WORDS, ONCE THE MANNING CHARTS HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED IN EVALUATING THE "OTHER FACTORS," THEY SHOULD NOT BE USED AGAIN FOR COMPARISON WITH THE BID PRICE SO AS TO DETERMINE WHO OFFERED THE LOWEST RATE PER MANHOUR.

FURTHER, WE BELIEVE THAT IN KEEPING WITH THE RULE STATED IN B-167685, OCTOBER 21, 1969, A MORE DEFINITIVE STATEMENT SHOULD HAVE BEEN CONTAINED IN THE SOLICITATION ADVISING OFFERORS THE EXACT ROLE THE MANNING CHARTS WERE TO PLAY IN THE EVALUATION OF OFFERS, ESPECIALLY IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT PRESENTLY OFFERORS ARE ADVISED THAT, NOTWITHSTANDING THE NUMBER OF MANNING HOURS OFFERED, THE CONTRACTOR IS RESPONSIBLE IN ANY EVENT FOR SUPPLYING SUFFICIENT PERSONNEL TO PERFORM THE CONTRACT SATISFACTORILY. CF. B-160537, OCTOBER 17, 1967. IT IS CLEAR TO US THAT AT THE PRESENT TIME ALL KNOWLEDGEABLE COMPANIES REGULARLY ENGAGED IN THE TYPE OF BUSINESS HERE INVOLVED VIEW THE MANNING CHARTS AS A TOOL FOR CONTRACT ENFORCEMENT RATHER THAN ONE OF THE CRITICAL "OTHER FACTORS" TO BE CONSIDERED IN THE AWARD PROCESS. ADDITIONALLY, IF THE GOVERNMENT'S ESTIMATE OF THE GROSS NUMBER OF MANNING HOURS BELIEVED TO BE REQUIRED IS TO BE USED IN ANY WAY IN THE EVALUATION OF OFFERS, WE SEE NOTHING IMPROPER, AND INDEED WE THINK IT MAY PROVE BENEFICIAL, TO ADVISE OFFERORS OF SUCH ESTIMATE, LEAVING TO THE OFFERORS THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR DETERMINING THE NUMBER OF HOURS REQUIRED FOR EACH SPECIFIC AREA OF OPERATION. IN THIS REGARD, WE BELIEVE IT IS ESSENTIAL TO THE RECEIPT OF REASONABLE AND TRULY COMPETITIVE PRICES THAT THE GOVERNMENT'S ESTIMATE OF THE MANNING HOURS REQUIRED BE AS CURRENTLY ACCURATE AS POSSIBLE, BASED UPON PAST EXPERIENCE AS WELL AS FUTURE ANTICIPATED NEEDS, AND WE CAN PERCEIVE OF NO SUBSTANTIAL BASIS TO CONCLUDE THAT A GREATER NUMBER OF HOURS PROPOSED BY AN OFFEROR EVIDENCES, IN ITSELF, A HIGHER QUALITY PROPOSAL.

AS INDICATED IN OUR DECISION OF TODAY, WE DO NOT BELIEVE IT WOULD BE IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT TO EXERCISE THE OPTION ON MANPOWER'S CONTRACT, AND WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT FUTURE MESS ATTENDENT SERVICES AT PATUXENT AND OTHER NAVAL STATIONS BE SOLICITED UNDER PROCEDURES ENCOMPASSING THE SUGGESTIONS MADE HEREIN.

THE DOCUMENTS FURNISHED WITH THE REPORT FROM YOUR DEPARTMENT ARE RETURNED.