B-170317, FEB 2, 1971

B-170317: Feb 2, 1971

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WHERE ALL PROPOSALS WERE EVALUATED UNDER THE SAME CRITERIA AGAINST THE EIGHT TESTED EVALUATION FACTORS IN THE RFP AND THE PURCHASING ACTIVITY CONCLUDED THAT PROTESTANT FAILED TO OFFER A TECHNICAL APPROACH WHICH COULD BE CONSIDERED WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE. A DEBRIEFING WITH PROTESTANT COMPORTING WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF NASA PROCUREMENT REGULATION 3.106-3(D) IS ADEQUATE AND WAS PROPERLY LIMITED TO A DISCUSSION OF PROTESTANT'S PROPOSAL AND ITS RESPONSIVENESS. INC.: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 2. THE RFP WAS ISSUED ON AUGUST 14. OFFERORS WERE ADVISED THAT IT WAS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO DEVELOP THEIR OWN STATEMENTS OF WORK AND THAT THE OBJECT OF THE PROCUREMENT WAS TO PROCURE AN INSTRUMENT THAT "INCLUDES ALL THE LATEST STATE-OF-THE-ART TECHNOLOGY.".

B-170317, FEB 2, 1971

BID PROTEST - NONRESPONSIVE OFFER DENIAL OF PROTEST BY INFORMATION INTERNATIONAL, INC., AGAINST AWARD OF A CONTRACT FOR A VIDEO FILM CONVERTER ISSUED BY THE MANNED SPACECRAFT CENTER, NASA, TO SINGER-GENERAL PRECISION, INC. WHERE ALL PROPOSALS WERE EVALUATED UNDER THE SAME CRITERIA AGAINST THE EIGHT TESTED EVALUATION FACTORS IN THE RFP AND THE PURCHASING ACTIVITY CONCLUDED THAT PROTESTANT FAILED TO OFFER A TECHNICAL APPROACH WHICH COULD BE CONSIDERED WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE, A DEBRIEFING WITH PROTESTANT COMPORTING WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF NASA PROCUREMENT REGULATION 3.106-3(D) IS ADEQUATE AND WAS PROPERLY LIMITED TO A DISCUSSION OF PROTESTANT'S PROPOSAL AND ITS RESPONSIVENESS, OR LACK THEREOF, TO THE SUBJECT RFP.

TO INFORMATION INTERNATIONAL, INC.:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JULY 2, 1970, PROTESTING AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT UNDER REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP) NO. BG921-38 0-10P TO ANOTHER OFFEROR AT A HIGHER ESTIMATED COST.

THE RFP WAS ISSUED ON AUGUST 14, 1969, BY THE MANNED SPACECRAFT CENTER, NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION (NASA) AND COVERED THE PROCUREMENT OF A VIDEO PROCESSING FILM CONVERTER. OFFERORS WERE ADVISED THAT IT WAS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO DEVELOP THEIR OWN STATEMENTS OF WORK AND THAT THE OBJECT OF THE PROCUREMENT WAS TO PROCURE AN INSTRUMENT THAT "INCLUDES ALL THE LATEST STATE-OF-THE-ART TECHNOLOGY." IN RESPONSE TO THE RFP, INFORMATION INTERNATIONAL, INC. (II), SUBMITTED A PROPOSAL DESCRIBING TWO ALTERNATE APPROACHES TO MEET NASA'S REQUIREMENTS. AFTER AN EVALUATION OF YOUR PROPOSAL WAS CONDUCTED BY EACH MEMBER OF A SIX-MAN EVALUATING BOARD, BOTH ALTERNATES WERE FOUND TO BE TECHNICALLY UNACCEPTABLE AND YOUR PROPOSAL WAS REJECTED.

SINCE YOU ADMIT, IN YOUR LETTER OF PROTEST TO OUR OFFICE, THAT YOUR FIRST APPROACH DID NOT MEET THE RFP SPECIFICATIONS, IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO COMMENT ON THIS ALTERNATE. WITH RESPECT TO YOUR SECOND APPROACH, YOU CONTEND THAT IT MET ALL REQUIREMENTS OF THE RFP AND WAS NOT A RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECT. YOU FURTHER STATE THAT AT A DEBRIEFING MEETING, WHICH II REQUESTED SUBSEQUENT TO THE REJECTION OF ITS PROPOSAL, NO VERBAL OR WRITTEN TECHNICAL REASON WAS GIVEN FOR II'S REJECTION.

THE RECORD INDICATES THAT ALL PROPOSALS WERE EVALUATED UNDER THE SAME CRITERIA AGAINST THE EIGHT LISTED EVALUATION FACTORS IN THE RFP. THE EVALUATION PROCESS WAS SUCH THAT, AT ITS CONCLUSION, EACH PROPOSAL WAS ASSIGNED A NUMERICAL SCORE REPRESENTING ITS RELATIVE TECHNICAL ACCEPTABILITY. IT'S FIRST AND SECOND APPROACH RECEIVED RATINGS OF 60.21 AND 58.40, RESPECTIVELY. THE NEXT HIGHEST RATING WAS 70.86. THE REMAINING RATINGS RANGED THROUGH THE 70'S AND 80'S WITH THE HIGHEST RATING FOR ANY PROPOSAL BEING 84.88. ON THE BASIS OF THESE RATINGS, THE PURCHASING ACTIVITY CONCLUDED THAT II FAILED TO OFFER A TECHNICAL APPROACH WHICH COULD BE CONSIDERED WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE. THEREAFTER, AWARD WAS MADE TO SINGER-GENERAL PRECISION, INC., LINK DIVISION, ON MARCH 23, 1970, ON A COST-PLUS-INCENTIVE-FEE BASIS.

IN OUR DECISION B-169671(1), AUGUST 31, 1970, WHICH IS APPLICABLE HERE, WE SAID:

"BOTH 10 U.S.C. 2304(G) AND PARAGRAPH 3-805.1(A) OF THE ARMED SERVICES PROCUREMENT REGULATION (ASPR) GENERALLY REQUIRE DISCUSSIONS WITH ALL RESPONSIBLE OFFERORS WHO SUBMIT PROPOSALS WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE, PRICE AND OTHER FACTORS CONSIDERED. WE HAVE HELD THAT THE TERM 'OTHER FACTORS' INCLUDES THE TECHNICAL ACCEPTABILITY OF PROPOSALS, 46 COMP. GEN. 606 (1967), AND WE HAVE ALSO HELD THAT A DETERMINATION OF WHAT CONSTITUTES A 'COMPETITIVE RANGE', PARTICULARLY WITH RESPECT TO THE EVALUATION OF TECHNICAL PROPOSALS, IS PRIMARILY A MATTER OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION WHICH WILL NOT BE DISTURBED BY THIS OFFICE IN THE ABSENCE OF A CLEAR SHOWING THAT SUCH DETERMINATION WAS AN ARBITRARY EXERCISE OF DISCRETION. SEE 48 COMP. GEN. 314, 317-318 (1968); B 164313, JULY 5, 1968."

IN VIEW OF THE POINT RATINGS RECEIVED BY YOUR FIRM AND THE ABSENCE OF ANY INDICATION THAT II WAS PREJUDICED BY THE MANNER IN WHICH THE EVALUATION WAS CONDUCTED, WE SEE NO JUSTIFIABLE BASIS FOR DISAGREEING WITH THE DETERMINATION OF THE PURCHASING ACTIVITY THAT II'S PROPOSAL WAS SO TECHNICALLY DEFICIENT AS TO MAKE IT TECHNICALLY UNACCEPTABLE. HENCE, WE ARE UNABLE TO CONCLUDE THAT FURTHER DISCUSSIONS WITH II WERE REQUIRED. SEE 49 COMP. GEN. 309, 310-311 (1969).

THE CONTRACTING OFFICER EXPRESSLY DENIES THAT II WAS NEVER GIVEN REASONS AS TO WHY ITS PROPOSALS WERE REJECTED. HE STATES, HOWEVER, THAT IT WAS DIFFICULT TO GO INTO SPECIFICS AT THE DEBRIEFING MEETING WITH II BECAUSE OF THE SUBSTANTIAL DEGREE TO WHICH II'S PROPOSAL WAS INADEQUATE. WHILE YOUR POSITION ON THIS MATTER IS IN DIRECT CONFLICT WITH THE STATEMENT OF THE CONTRACTING OFFICER TO OUR OFFICE, THE FILE CONTAINS A MEMORANDUM DATED MAY 12, 1970, OF THE DEBRIEFING WITH YOUR FIRM WHICH COMPORTS WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF NASA PROCUREMENT REGULATION 3.106-3(D). IN PART THE MEMORANDUM READS:

"MANY OF THE QUESTIONS ASKED BY THE INFORMATION INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES COULD NOT BE ANSWERED AS THEY WERE DIRECTED TOWARD INFORMATION CONTAINED IN PROPOSALS OF OTHER CONTRACTORS.

"INFORMATION INTERNATIONAL WAS ADVISED THAT THE DEBRIEFING WAS LIMITED TO A DISCUSSION OF THEIR PROPOSAL AND ITS RESPONSIVENESS, OR LACK THEREOF, TO THE SUBJECT RFP.

"IT IS THE BELIEF OF THE UNDERSIGNED THAT THE INFORMATION PROVIDED TO THE INFORMATION INTERNATIONAL INC. REPRESENTATIVES WILL ENABLE THEM TO BE MORE RESPONSIVE TO FUTURE SOLICITATIONS."

ON THE QUESTION WHETHER YOUR PROPOSAL CALLED FOR A RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECT, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER POINTS OUT THAT ON PAGE 2 1, VOLUME 1 OF YOUR TECHNICAL PROPOSAL, YOU STATE, "THIS ALTERNATE APPROACH IS A DEVELOPMENT EFFORT BY INFORMATION INTERNATIONAL TO PROVIDE A VIDEO PROCESSING FILM CONVERTER." HE ALSO DIRECTS OUR ATTENTION TO OTHER STATEMENTS IN THE FOREWORD AND AT PAGE 2-9 OF THE SAME VOLUME WHICH CONVEY THE IMPRESSION THAT A DEVELOPMENT EFFORT WAS REQUIRED. WHETHER OR NOT THESE STATEMENTS ACCURATELY REFLECT II'S INTENT WITH RESPECT TO ITS SECOND APPROACH NEED NOT BE RESOLVED HERE SINCE BOTH TECHNICAL APPROACHES PROPOSED BY YOUR FIRM WERE UNACCEPTABLE AND WOULD NOT MEET THE TECHNICAL NEEDS OF NASA AS SET FORTH IN THE RFP.

ACCORDINGLY, YOUR PROTEST IS DENIED.