B-170616, FEB 23, 1971

B-170616: Feb 23, 1971

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BID PROTEST DECISION DENYING PROTEST AGAINST CONTRACTING OFFICER'S DETERMINATION THAT IT WAS NOT NECESSARY TO HOLD WRITTEN OR ORAL DISCUSSION WITH PROTESTANT ON A PROPOSAL TO FURNISH A MODEL MULTIPLEXER UNDER RFQ ISSUED BY U.S. GEN. 417 (1966) HELD THAT THE FAILURE TO NEGOTIATE IS INCONSISTENT WITH THE STATUTORY AND REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS FOR HOLDING WRITTEN OR ORAL DISCUSSIONS WITH ALL OFFERORS WITHIN COMPETITIVE RANGE. A TECHNICAL EVALUATION WHICH DETERMINED THAT PROTESTANT'S PROPOSAL WAS NOT WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE IS A MATTER WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE AND IN THE ABSENCE OF AN ABUSE OF THIS DISCRETION. THAT DETERMINATION WILL BE UPHELD. SUBSEQUENT CORRESPONDENCE PROTESTING AGAINST THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S DETERMINATION THAT IT WAS NOT NECESSARY TO HOLD WRITTEN OR ORAL DISCUSSIONS WITH YOUR CONCERN ON A PROPOSAL SUBMITTED UNDER REQUEST FOR QUOTATIONS (RFQ) NO.

B-170616, FEB 23, 1971

BID PROTEST DECISION DENYING PROTEST AGAINST CONTRACTING OFFICER'S DETERMINATION THAT IT WAS NOT NECESSARY TO HOLD WRITTEN OR ORAL DISCUSSION WITH PROTESTANT ON A PROPOSAL TO FURNISH A MODEL MULTIPLEXER UNDER RFQ ISSUED BY U.S. ARMY ELECTRONICS COMMAND, FORT MONMOUTH, N.J. WHILE 45 COMP. GEN. 417 (1966) HELD THAT THE FAILURE TO NEGOTIATE IS INCONSISTENT WITH THE STATUTORY AND REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS FOR HOLDING WRITTEN OR ORAL DISCUSSIONS WITH ALL OFFERORS WITHIN COMPETITIVE RANGE, A TECHNICAL EVALUATION WHICH DETERMINED THAT PROTESTANT'S PROPOSAL WAS NOT WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE IS A MATTER WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE AND IN THE ABSENCE OF AN ABUSE OF THIS DISCRETION, THAT DETERMINATION WILL BE UPHELD.

TO RADIO ENGINEERING LABORATORIES:

THIS REFERS TO THE TELEGRAM DATED AUGUST 14, 1970, AND SUBSEQUENT CORRESPONDENCE PROTESTING AGAINST THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S DETERMINATION THAT IT WAS NOT NECESSARY TO HOLD WRITTEN OR ORAL DISCUSSIONS WITH YOUR CONCERN ON A PROPOSAL SUBMITTED UNDER REQUEST FOR QUOTATIONS (RFQ) NO. DAAB07-70-Q-0255, ISSUED ON MARCH 12, 1970, BY THE FORT MONMOUTH PROCUREMENT DIVISION, PROCUREMENT & PRODUCTION DIRECTORATE, UNITED STATES ARMY ELECTRONICS COMMAND, FORT MONMOUTH, NEW JERSEY.

THE PROCUREMENT IS FOR AN ADVANCED DEVELOPMENT MODEL MULTIPLEXER TOGETHER WITH INCIDENTAL ANCILLARY ITEMS PLUS AN OPTION FOR TWO ADVANCE PRODUCTION ENGINEERING MODELS WITH THEIR ASSOCIATED ANCILLARY ITEMS.

THE RFQ WAS ISSUED TO A TOTAL OF 56 FIRMS. TWELVE PROPOSALS WERE RECEIVED AND OPENED ON MAY 1, 1970, THE DATE ESTABLISHED FOR RECEIPT OF OFFERS. TECHNICAL EVALUATION WAS COMPLETED ON MAY 28, 1970, AND EVALUATION OF SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION WAS COMPLETED ON JULY 7, 1970. FOUR PROPOSALS WERE DETERMINED TO BE WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE. FIRMS SUBMITTING THE REMAINING PROPOSALS WERE NOTIFIED BY LETTER DATED JUNE 24, 1970, THAT THEIR PROPOSALS WOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED FURTHER.

NOTE 5, PART IIIA), OF THE RFQ, ADVISED OFFERORS THAT THE TECHNICAL EVALUATION FACTORS WERE CONTAINED IN USAECOM CLAUSE 516 A-1. NOTE 5 ALSO ADVISED OFFERORS OF THE FOLLOWING ORDER OF IMPORTANCE FOR THE VARIOUS TECHNICAL EVALUATION FACTORS:

PRIMARY IMPORTANCE - PARAGRAPH A.

SECONDARY IMPORTANCE - PARAGRAPHS B., C., D., AND F.

NEXT IN IMPORTANCE IN DESCENDING ORDER - PARAGRAPH E.

PARAGRAPH A. OF CLAUSE 516A-1 IS ENTITLED TECHNICAL PROPOSAL (ENGINEERING APPROACH) AND LISTS THE FOLLOWING SUBFACTORS:

(1) COMPLETENESS

(2) UNDERSTANDING OF PROBLEM

(3) FEASIBILITY OF APPROACH

(4) DESIGN

(5) TEST

(6) SUPPORT ENGINEERING

PARAGRAPHS B., C., D., AND F., OF THE CLAUSE DEAL WITH PERSONNEL, COMPANY EXPERIENCE, ENGINEERING MAN-HOURS AND SCHEDULE AND DELIVERY, RESPECTIVELY. PARAGRAPH E., OF THE CLAUSE RELATES TO MATERIAL CHARGES. THE CLAUSE ALSO PROVIDED FOR CONSIDERATION OF THE OFFEROR'S FINANCIAL STATUS AND CAPABILITY, ESTIMATED COSTS AND FEE OR PROFIT.

PURSUANT TO A TECHNICAL EVALUATION, IT WAS DETERMINED THAT YOUR PROPOSAL WAS NOT WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE AND THAT FURTHER DISCUSSIONS WITH YOUR CONCERN WOULD SERVE NO USEFUL PURPOSE. YOU HAVE ASSERTED THAT THE FAILURE TO NEGOTIATE WITH YOUR CONCERN WAS INCONSISTENT WITH THE STATUTORY AND REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS FOR HOLDING WRITTEN OR ORAL DISCUSSIONS WITH ALL OFFERORS WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE, CITING 45 COMP. GEN. 417 (1966). YOU CONTEND THAT YOUR PROPOSAL WAS WITHIN THE RANGE OF ACCEPTABILITY FROM A TECHNICAL STANDPOINT. IT IS URGED THAT THE PROCURING ACTIVITY USED CRITERIA IN THE EVALUATION WHICH WERE NOT SET FORTH IN THE RFQ. YOU CONTEND THAT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S LETTER OF JUNE 24, 1970, DID NOT MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF ARMED SERVICES PROCUREMENT REGULATION (ASPR) 3- 508.2(A) SINCE THE LETTER DID NOT ADVISE REL OF THE SPECIFIC REASONS WHY ITS OFFER WAS NOT ACCEPTABLE AND THAT IT WAS NOT UNTIL REL PROTESTED THIS MATTER TO OUR OFFICE THAT ARMY ADVISED REL OF THE BASIS FOR ITS ACTION. REL ARGUES THAT THIS PROCEDURE WAS NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH 46 COMP. GEN. 606, 611 612 (1967).

BOTH 10 U.S.C. 2304(G) AND ASPR 3-805.1(A) GENERALLY REQUIRE DISCUSSIONS WITH OFFERORS WHO SUBMIT PROPOSALS WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE, PRICE AND OTHER FACTORS CONSIDERED. THE PHRASE "OTHER FACTORS" HAS BEEN HELD TO INCLUDE THE TECHNICAL ACCEPTABILITY OF PROPOSALS. 46 COMP. GEN. 606 (1967). IN OUR OPINION, A PROPOSAL MUST BE REGARDED AS WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE UNLESS IT IS SO TECHNICALLY DEFICIENT OR OUT OF LINE IN PRICE AS TO PRECLUDE FURTHER MEANINGFUL NEGOTIATIONS. PARTICULARLY WITH RESPECT TO TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS, HOWEVER, WE RECOGNIZE A REASONABLE DEGREE OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION IN DETERMINING WHETHER A PROPOSAL IS WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE. B 163024, AUGUST 27, 1968, AND B-168092, MAY 5, 1970.

ARMY'S DETERMINATION THAT REL WAS NOT IN A COMPETITIVE RANGE WAS BASED ON THE FINDING THAT THERE WERE A NUMBER OF MAJOR TECHNICAL DEFICIENCIES IN YOUR PROPOSAL, INCLUDING THE PROPOSED SCHEMES FOR FRAME SYNCHRONIZATION AND SIGNALING. THE CONTRACTING AGENCY STATES THAT NEITHER OF THE TWO PROPOSED ALTERNATE SCHEMES FOR FRAME SYNCHRONIZATION AND SIGNALING IS ACCEPTABLE. THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S REPORT DATED FEBRUARY 3, 1971, GIVES THE FOLLOWING DETAILS WITH RESPECT TO THIS DEFICIENCY:

" *** PLAN 1 (CYCLIC PERMUTATION OF THE M-LEAD CONDITION OF THE FIRST THREE CHANNELS) WOULD BE SUBJECT TO FALSE FRAME SYNCHRONIZATION DUE TO M- LEAD CONDITIONS ON OTHER CHANNELS. THIS IS BECAUSE FRAME-IN IS DEPENDENT ON SIGNALING CONDITIONS ON CHANNELS 1, 2 AND 3 WHICH COULD BE DUPLICATED ON OTHER CHANNELS. THE SAMPLING RATE PROVIDED FOR SIGNALING WAS NOT SUFFICIENT TO MEET THE OR - 5% DISTORTION REQUIREMENT OF THE SPECIFICATION ON CHANNELS 1, 2 AND 3 IN PLAN 1 AND ALL CHANNELS IN PLAN 2. THE SAMPLING RATE PROPOSED IN PLAN 1 AND PLAN 2 FOR SIGNALING RESULTS IN 6.34% DISTORTION, WHICH IS UNACCEPTABLE. THE USE OF A M-LEAD PULSE DISTORTION CORRECTOR WAS NOT CONSIDERED A COST EFFECTIVE SOLUTION. A MAJOR CHANGE IN CONCEPT AND SUBSTANTIAL REWRITE OF THE PROPOSAL WOULD BE REQUIRED TO CORRECT THESE DEFICIENCIES. IN COMPARING BIDDER B'S DEFICIENCY WITH REL'S RELATIVE TO SIGNALING, BIDDER B'S PROPOSED FRAME FORMAT AFFECTED SIGNALING DISTORTION ONLY. THEIR PROPOSAL FOR FRAME SYNCHRONIZATION WAS FULLY COMPLIANT WITH SPECIFICATION REQUIREMENTS, AND THEIR BASIC APPROACH WAS SOUND IN ALL OTHER RESPECTS. A RELATIVELY MINOR MODIFICATION TO PROVIDE INCREASED SAMPLING RATE FOR SIGNALING WAS ALL THAT WAS REQUIRED."

IN ADDITION TO THE DEFICIENCY IN THE SIGNALING AND FRAMING METHOD, WE HAVE ALSO BEEN ADVISED OF THE FOLLOWING DEFICIENCIES IN YOUR PROPOSAL:

"B. THE RELIABILITY PROGRAM PROPOSED BY REL IN ORDER TO SATISFY THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE ECOM SPECIFICATION IS DEFICIENT WITH RESPECT TO ANALYSIS, PREDICTION AND SCHEDULING. THE RELIABILITY ANALYSIS AND PREDICTION SUBMITTED BY REL IN ITS PROPOSAL WAS DONE INCORRECTLY AS MANIFESTED BY THE USE OF A PARALLEL RELIABILITY MODEL IN LIEU OF A SERIES MODEL. THE PARALLEL RELIABILITY MODEL IS OPTIMISTIC IN THAT IT MAKES THE PREDICTED MEAN TIME BETWEEN FAILURE (MTBF) ABOUT DOUBLE WHAT IT SHOULD BE. REL DID NOT BREAK THE MODEL DOWN TO THE COMPONENT LEVEL TO INDICATE WHAT THE MTBF OF THE COMPONENT WOULD BE, AND THEY DO NOT STATE WHAT INTERNAL TEMPERATURE RISE IS EXPECTED. REL IS OVERLY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE EFFECT BURN-IN HAS ON IMPROVING THE RELIABILITY OF THE EQUIPMENT. THE RELIABILITY PROGRAM PROPOSED DOES NOT PROVIDE SUFFICIENT TEST TIME TO REACH THE EXPECTED DECISION POINT. THEIR PROPOSAL CONTAINS CONFLICTING STATEMENTS ON LENGTH OF RELIABILITY TEST AND DOES NOT GIVE DELIVERY DATES FOR RELIABILITY SOFTWARE. THE RELIABILITY PORTION OF THE PROPOSAL WOULD REQUIRE COMPLETE REVISION TO CORRECT THESE DEFICIENCIES.

"C. REL HAS STATED IN ITS PROPOSAL (PAGE 4B-212) IT HAS VERY LIMITED EXPERIENCE IN USING DIGITAL CIRCUITS IN TRANSMISSION MULTIPLEX EQUIPMENT. REL STATES THEIR EXPERIENCE IN THIS AREA WAS ACQUIRED DURING THE PAST YEAR IN ASSOCIATION WITH NIPPON ELECTRIC COMPANY (NEC). PROBLEMS MAY BE ENCOUNTERED IN DIFFERENCES IN CHARACTERISTICS BETWEEN JAPANESE AND U.S. MADE DIGITAL INTEGRATED CIRCUITS.

"REL'S TECHNICAL KNOW HOW IN THE MULTIPLEX FIELD IS STRONGLY DEPENDENT UPON NEC'S BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN REL AND NEC DURING THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE TD-968 IS NOT CLEARLY SPECIFIED OTHER THAN NEC PERSONNEL WOULD BE USED FOR CONSULTATION AS REQUIRED. THE LACK OF REL'S EXPERIENCE IN THE DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT AND MANUFACTURE OF PCM EQUIPMENT, OR SIMILAR TYPE DIGITAL EQUIPMENT FOR USE IN TRANSPORTABLE ASSEMBLAGES, PLUS THE UNCERTAIN PART THAT NEC WOULD PLAY IN THE DEVELOPMENT, DOES NOT INSPIRE CONFIDENCE IN THE CAPABILITY OF REL TO MEET THE SPECIFICATION REQUIREMENTS IN THE TIME SCHEDULED FOR THIS PROGRAM.

"D. THE MECHANICAL DESIGN APPROACH SUBMITTED BY REL IS DEFICIENT IN CERTAIN AREAS. FOR EXAMPLE, THEIR APPROACH IN THE CHASSIS AND CASE DESIGN IS TO USE 1/8 INCH SOLID ALUMINUM, BUT NO ANALYSIS IS GIVEN AS TO HOW THE WEIGHT REQUIREMENT OF THE SPECIFICATION WILL BE MET. IT IS SERIOUSLY QUESTIONED THAT THE USE OF THIS MATERIAL WOULD MEET THE WEIGHT REQUIREMENT. REL'S PROPOSAL DOES NOT GIVE CONSIDERATION OR ANALYSIS AS TO MEANS OF COOLING THE EQUIPMENT. THE PAUCITY OF DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF THE MECHANICAL DESIGN APPROACH PROPOSED BY REL PROVIDES NO ASSURANCE THAT THE SERVICE CONDITIONS OF THE ECOM SPECIFICATION WILL BE MET. THE MECHANICAL DESIGN PROPOSAL IS UNCLEAR AS TO WHAT METHOD HE PROPOSES TO USE TO MAKE AUDIO CONNECTIONS TO THE EQUIPMENT. USE OF A 144 PIN AUDIO CONNECTOR TO A 144 CONNECTION TERMINAL BLOCK OR THE USE OF SOLDER CONNECTIONS FROM MANY MULTIPAIR AUDIO CABLES TO A 144 CONNECTOR TERMINAL BLOCK CAN BE INFERRED. NEITHER METHOD IS ACCEPTABLE. A SUBSTANTIAL REWRITE OF THE MECHANICAL PORTION OF THE PROPOSAL WOULD BE REQUIRED TO CORRECT THOSE DEFICIENCIES.

"E. THE MAINTAINABILITY PROGRAM PROPOSED BY REL IS DEFICIENT IN A NUMBER OF AREAS. REL'S PROPOSED USE OF PATCH CORDS FOR ALIGNMENT IS AN UNACCEPTABLE DESIGN FROM A MAINTAINABILITY STANDPOINT. THE CORDS CAN BE EASILY MISPLACED OR BROKEN. THE USE OF PATCH CORDS IS CONDUCIVE TO ERROR, AND EXCESSIVE TIME IS REQUIRED FOR ALIGNMENT, AS COMPARED TO OTHER METHODS. IT WOULD BE EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO MEET THE MEAN TIME TO REPAIR (MTTR) REQUIREMENT OF THE SPECIFICATION BY THIS PROPOSED METHOD. THERE WAS INSUFFICIENT DESIGN INFORMATION WITH RESPECT TO USE OF THE INTEGRAL TEST FACILITY AS TO WHETHER OR NOT IT WOULD INTERFERE WITH NORMAL TRAFFIC FLOW WHILE TESTING PLUG-IN PRINTED CIRCUIT CARDS. THE SPECIFICATION STATES THAT NORMAL TRAFFIC FLOW SHALL NOT BE INTERFERED WITH WHEN TESTING. THE POWER SUPPLY AND MONITOR FACILITIES ARE NOT SEPARATE PLUG-IN UNITS AS REQUIRED BY THE SPECIFICATION. REL'S PROPOSAL IS NEBULOUS AS TO HOW THE PLUG-IN PRINTED CIRCUIT CARDS ARE TO BE SECURED OR REMOVED AS THIS INFORMATION IS NECESSARY TO DETERMINE IF THE MTTR REQUIREMENT CAN BE MET. THE ABOVE DEFICIENCIES, ALSO REFLECT UNFAVORABLY ON THE HUMAN FACTORS ENGINEERING PROGRAM. A SUBSTANTIAL REWRITE OF THIS PORTION OF THE PROPOSAL WOULD BE REQUIRED TO CORRECT THESE DIFFICIENCIES.

"F. THE TEMPEST PROGRAM SUBMITTED BY REL HAS WEAK POINTS IN A NUMBER OF AREAS. REL PROVIDES NO SPECIFIC DESIGN APPROACH IN ITS PROPOSAL. ONLY GENERALIZED TECHNIQUES APPLICABLE TO ANY PROGRAM ARE DISCUSSED. REL INTENDS TO SUBCONTRACT TEMPEST TO NATIONAL SCIENTIFIC LABORATORIES BUT DOES NOT STATE IF THE SUBCONTRACT WILL COVER DESIGN CONSULTATION OR TESTING OR BOTH. THE PROPOSAL DID NOT PROVIDE INFORMATION ON REL TEMPEST PERSONNEL OR COMPANY TEMPEST EXPERIENCE, AND NSL PERSONNEL WERE NOT FIRMLY COMMITTED. NOTWITHSTANDING THE INCOMPLETENESS OF THIS AREA, REL WAS SCORED ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT NSL WOULD PROVIDE ALL NECESSARY PERSONNEL AND FACILITIES.

"G. ALTHOUGH CONSIDERABLE TEST DATA WAS GIVEN FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF 7- BIT, U 100 AND A 13 SEGMENT A 87.6 CODERS (COMMERCIAL EQUIPMENT) DEVELOPED BY NIPPON ELECTRIC COMPANY, NO CLEAR INDICATION WAS GIVEN TO SHOW THE EXTENT THAT THE DATA FURNISHED IN THE PROPOSAL WOULD BE APPLICABLE TO THE CODER PROPOSED TO BE EMPLOYED. THE MEASURED PERFORMANCE ON AN 8 BIT, 15 SEGMENT CODER WAS MADE ON A BREADBOARD WHICH WAS DESIGNED AND FABRICATED BY NEC PRESUMABLY WITH JAPANESE COMPONENTS. THE RESULTS OF THESE MEASUREMENTS, AND THE PROPOSAL'S CLAIMS FOR THEORETICAL PERFORMANCE SIGNIFICANTLY EXCEED WHAT IS CONSIDERED TO BE ACHIEVABLE BY THE PROPOSED APPROACH, BASED ON CURRENT THEORETICAL CONSIDERATIONS. THESE RESULTS, CLAIMED TO BE ACHIEVABLE IN THE PROPOSAL, WERE NOT EXPLAINED OR ADEQUATELY SUPPORTED BY ANALYSIS OR DETAILS OF TESTING.

"H. THE DETAILS GIVEN WITH REGARD TO THE VIDEO INTERFACE (I.E., PCM AND TIMING SIGNALS) WERE INADEQUATE TO DETERMINE WHETHER THESE SPECIFICATION REQUIREMENTS WOULD BE MET. NO DETAIL ON CIRCUITS WAS PROVIDED. INFORMATION ON BALANCED - UNBALANCED OPERATION, OR CONTROL OF RISE AND FALL TIMES, WAS FURNISHED. REL MERELY REPEATED THE SPECIFICATION REQUIREMENTS OF THE RFQ AND IN NO WAY INDICATED HOW THEY WOULD BE MET.

"I. THE ANALYSIS OF THE PHASE LOCK LOOP FOR DEMULTIPLEX TIMING RECOVERY WAS INADEQUATE TO DEMONSTRATE PROPER OPERATION WOULD BE ACHIEVED. ONLY A GENERAL DISCUSSION OF THE REQUIREMENT WAS OFFERED. NO ANALYSIS OF OF PULL -IN TIME AND JITTER WAS FURNISHED. NO ANALYSIS OF THE IMPACT OF THE PHASE LOCK LOOP UPON THE MULTIPLEXER FRAME - IN TIME OR REACQUISITION TIME WAS INCLUDED. REL DID NOT RESPOND TO THIS REQUIREMENT BY FURNISHING NECESSARY CALCULATIONS."

YOU WERE INFORMED OF THE ABOVE DEFICIENCIES IN YOUR PROPOSAL AT THE DEBRIEFING CONFERENCE HELD ON SEPTEMBER 1, 1970.

IN CONTRAST TO THE ABOVE MAJOR DEFICIENCIES IN REL'S PROPOSAL WE ARE ADVISED THAT DEFICIENCIES IN THE PROPOSALS FOUND TO BE IN A COMPETITIVE RANGE WERE MINOR AND EASILY CORRECTED THROUGH DISCUSSION WITH THESE OFFERORS AND THAT ONE OF THE ACCEPTABLE OFFERS DID NOT HAVE ANY DEFICIENCIES. SINCE AWARD IS STILL PENDING THE FOUR OFFERORS FOUND TO BE IN A COMPETITIVE RANGE ARE DESIGNATED BIDDERS (OFFERORS) A, B, C, AND D. ARMY'S ANALYSIS OF THESE OFFERS FOLLOWS: "A. BIDDER A WAS DETERMINED TO BE FULLY ACCEPTABLE.

"B. BIDDERS B, C, AND D WERE FOUND TO BE SUSCEPTIBLE OF BEING MADE ACCEPTABLE THROUGH CLARIFICATION AND RECTIFICATION OF MINOR DEFICIENCIES.

"C. ALL OTHER BIDDERS INCLUDING REL WERE FOUND TO BE UNACCEPTABLE DUE TO THE EXTENT AND SUBSTANTIVE NATURE OF THEIR DEFICIENCIES. "D. BIDDERS B, C, AND D WERE DEFICIENT IN THE APE (ADVANCED PRODUCTION ENGINEERING) PORTION OF THEIR PROPOSALS. CLARIFICATION AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION TO INDICATE IN DETAIL EXACTLY HOW APE WOULD BE PERFORMED WAS REQUIRED. THIS WAS PROVIDED WITHIN ONE WEEK FOLLOWING DISCUSSIONS WITH THE BIDDERS. SUBSEQUENTLY THE APE PORTION OF THE PROPOSALS WAS ELIMINATED FROM THE EVALUATION FACTORS BECAUSE THIS REQUIREMENT WAS CONTAINED AS AN OPTION ONLY IN THE RFQ.

"E. THE SIGNALING METHOD PROPOSED BY BIDDER B WAS INADEQUATE TO MEET THE SIGNAL DISTORTION REQUIREMENT OF OR - 5%. THEIR BASIC APPROACH WAS SOUND WITH RESPECT TO THE SYNCHRONIZATION SCHEME, HOWEVER, A MINOR MODIFICATION OF FRAME FORMAT TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL BITS (BINARY DIGITS) FOR SIGNALING WAS REQUIRED. AN ACCEPTABLE METHOD, INCREASING THE SAMPLING RATE OF THE SIGNALING INFORMATION, WAS PROPOSED BY BIDDER B FOLLOWING DISCUSSION WITH HIM.

"F. BIDDER C HAD NO DEFICIENCY OTHER THAN IN THE APE PORTION, AS MENTIONED ABOVE.

"G. BIDDER D PROPOSED THE USE OF AN EDGEBOARD CONNECTOR FOR PRINTED CIRCUIT CARDS WHICH IS NOT APPROVED FOR USE IN ARMY EQUIPMENT. ACCEPTABLE TWO-PART CONNECTOR WAS PROPOSED BY THE BIDDER FOLLOWING DISCUSSION WITH HIM. THIS TYPE OF CONNECTOR WAS DISCUSSED BY THE BIDDER IN HIS ORIGINAL PROPOSAL BUT WAS NOT PROPOSED BY HIM AS HIS BASIC APPROACH."

IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE INFORMATION, WE DO NOT FIND THAT THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE ABUSED ITS DISCRETION BY FINDING THAT YOUR PROPOSAL WAS NOT IN A COMPETITIVE RANGE. WHERE THE DETERMINATION IS BASED ON TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS, WE MUST ASSUME THAT THE INDIVIDUALS IN WHOM THE ADMINISTRATIVE DEPARTMENTS OF THE GOVERNMENT HAVE VESTED THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE SUCH JUDGMENTS ARE COMPETENT, AND OUR OFFICE DOES NOT HAVE THE TECHNICAL EXPERTISE IN SUCH FIELDS WHICH WOULD ENABLE US TO QUESTION THE MERITS OF THEIR TECHNICAL DETERMINATIONS. SEE B 167175(2), OCTOBER 13, 1969. THE DECISION AT 45 COMP. GEN. 417 (1966), CITED IN YOUR LETTER, HELD THAT AN AWARD ON THE BASIS OF INITIAL OFFERS MAY NOT BE USED AS A MEANS FOR CIRCUMVENTING THE REQUIREMENT FOR NEGOTIATING WITH ALL OFFERORS WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE. WE DO NOT FIND THAT CASE TO BE APPLICABLE IN THIS SITUATION SINCE IN FACT DISCUSSIONS WERE HELD WITH THOSE OFFERORS FOUND TO BE IN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE.

WITH RESPECT TO YOUR CONTENTION REGARDING THE EVALUATION CRITERIA, WE HAVE PREVIOUSLY APPROVED THE USE OF EVALUATION CRITERIA AS SET FORTH IN THIS RFQ. SEE B-170449(1), NOVEMBER 17, 1970. WE HAVE EXAMINED THE EVALUATION CRITERIA AND FIND THAT EACH OF THE CRITERIA SET FORTH IN THE RFQ WAS CONSIDERED IN THE EVALUATION; THEREFORE, THE OBJECTION WE MADE IN THE LETTER TO THE SECRETARY OF THE ARMY IN B-170449, NOVEMBER 17, 1970, WOULD NOT BE APPLICABLE IN THIS CASE.

ASPR 3-508.2(A) PROVIDES FOR PROMPT PREAWARD NOTICE TO UNACCEPTABLE OFFERORS. YOUR CONCERN WAS GIVEN A COMPREHENSIVE DEBRIEFING ON SEPTEMBER 1, 1970, AND YOU WERE ALSO NOTIFIED OF THE REJECTION OF YOUR PROPOSAL BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S LETTER DATED JUNE 24, 1970. BOTH THE DEBRIEFING AND THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S LETTER OCCURRED PRIOR TO AWARD. WHILE THE DEBRIEFING CONFERENCE WAS NOT HELD UNTIL AFTER YOU FILLED YOUR PROTEST, WE DO NOT CONSIDER THIS AS A BASIS FOR INVALIDATING THE NEGOTIATION PROCEDURE.

FOR THESE REASONS YOUR PROTEST IS DENIED.