B-171345, MAR 7, 1972

B-171345: Mar 7, 1972

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THE DRAFTING OF SPECIFICATIONS TO REFLECT THE MINIMUM NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT AND THE DETERMINATION AS TO WHETHER THOSE NEEDS CAN BE MET BY A GIVEN OFFER ARE PRIMARILY WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THE PROCURING AGENCY. 38 COMP. IS UNABLE TO CONCLUDE THAT THE PROCEDURES USED WERE EITHER ARBITRARY OR RESTRICTIVE OF COMPETITION. THE PROTEST IS DENIED. TO NATIONAL COMPUTER SYSTEMS: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 18. SUCH EQUIPMENT WAS TO BE USED IN THE ARMY'S MARK SENSE SOURCE DATA AUTOMATION PROJECT. WHICH IS A TECHNIQUE FOR THE CAPTURE AND REDUCTION OF SOURCE DATA. IT IS REPORTED THAT COPIES OF THE RFP WERE SENT TO A TOTAL OF 22 PROSPECTIVE OFFERORS ON OCTOBER 16. IT IS FURTHER REPORTED THAT TWO RESPONSIVE PROPOSALS WERE RECEIVED BY THE CLOSING DATE.

B-171345, MAR 7, 1972

BID PROTEST - IMPROPER SOLICITATION DECISION DENYING PROTEST OF NATIONAL COMPUTER SYSTEMS AGAINST AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORPORATION (IBM) UNDER AN RFP ISSUED BY THE ARMY COMPUTER SYSTEMS SUPPORT AND EVALUATION COMMAND FOR EQUIPMENT TO BE USED AT THE ARMY'S MARK SENSE SOURCE DATA AUTOMATION PROJECT. AS A GENERAL RULE, THE DRAFTING OF SPECIFICATIONS TO REFLECT THE MINIMUM NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT AND THE DETERMINATION AS TO WHETHER THOSE NEEDS CAN BE MET BY A GIVEN OFFER ARE PRIMARILY WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THE PROCURING AGENCY. 38 COMP. GEN. 190 (1958). IN THE INSTANT CASE, THE COMP. GEN. IS UNABLE TO CONCLUDE THAT THE PROCEDURES USED WERE EITHER ARBITRARY OR RESTRICTIVE OF COMPETITION. ACCORDINGLY, THE PROTEST IS DENIED.

TO NATIONAL COMPUTER SYSTEMS:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 18, 1970, WITH ENCLOSURES, AND SUBSEQUENT CORRESPONDENCE, PROTESTING THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO ANOTHER FIRM UNDER REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP) NO. HOOA-70 ISSUED BY THE UNITED STATES ARMY COMPUTER SYSTEMS SUPPORT AND EVALUATION COMMAND.

THE SOLICITATION CALLED FOR PROPOSALS FOR DELIVERY, INSTALLATION, AND MAINTENANCE OF EQUIPMENT, SOFTWARE AND SUPPORT SERVICES. SUCH EQUIPMENT WAS TO BE USED IN THE ARMY'S MARK SENSE SOURCE DATA AUTOMATION PROJECT, WHICH IS A TECHNIQUE FOR THE CAPTURE AND REDUCTION OF SOURCE DATA. IT IS REPORTED THAT COPIES OF THE RFP WERE SENT TO A TOTAL OF 22 PROSPECTIVE OFFERORS ON OCTOBER 16, 1970, WITH A DUE DATE FOR RECEIPT OF PROPOSALS OF NOVEMBER 19, 1970. IT IS FURTHER REPORTED THAT TWO RESPONSIVE PROPOSALS WERE RECEIVED BY THE CLOSING DATE. NEGOTIATIONS WITH BOTH OFFERORS FOLLOWED, CULMINATING IN AN AWARD TO INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORPORATION (IBM) ON MARCH 2, 1971. NATIONAL COMPUTER SYSTEMS DID NOT SUBMIT AN OFFER. IN THIS CONNECTION, IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THIS PROCUREMENT WAS ALSO THE SUBJECT OF A PROTEST SUBMITTED BY TELEFAX DATED MARCH 8, 1971, FROM OPTICAL SCANNING CORPORATION (OPSCAN). WE THEREFORE DELAYED REACHING A DECISION IN THIS CASE PENDING OUR CONSIDERATION OF THE OPSCAN PROTEST. ENCLOSED IS A COPY OF OUR DECISION OF TODAY TO OPSCAN.

YOU CONTEND THAT THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE RFP ARE UNDULY RESTRICTIVE THEREBY PRECLUDING COMPETITION AMONG OFFERORS UNDER THE PROCUREMENT. THIS REGARD YOU ALLEGE THAT THE RFP'S REQUIREMENT FOR DELIVERY OF SIX SYSTEMS WITHIN 14 DAYS AFTER RECEIPT OF A DELIVERY ORDER IS NOT CONSISTENT WITH GENERALLY ACCEPTED REQUIREMENTS IN THE DATA PROCESSING INDUSTRY. THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT STATES THAT THIS DELIVERY REQUIREMENT WAS INCLUDED IN THE RFP FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

"A. DCSPER PLANNING FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF MASSDATA HAS BEEN COMPLETED WITH THREE TRAINING TEAMS AND FUNDS AVAILABLE.

"B. EACH OF THE THREE TRAINING TEAMS CONSISTS OF ONE OFFICER AND FOUR ENLISTED MEN. CURRENT ACTIVITIES OF THE TRAINING TEAMS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

"(1) DESIGNING MARK SENSE FORMS TO INSURE INTERFACE WITH OTHER DA SYSTEMS.

"(2) PREPARING FOR PRINTING AND DISTRIBUTION OF FORMS.

"(3) PREPARING LESSON PLANS FOR TRAINING PERSONNEL SPECIALISTS IN PROCEDURES AND TECHNIQUES TO BE EMPLOYED IN MASSDATA.

"(4) COMPLETING DETAILED PLANS FOR INSTALLING THE INITIAL SIX SYSTEMS.

"(5) STUDYING WAYS TO ACHIEVE INTERFACE OF THE MASSDATA APPLICATION WITH JUMPS.

"(6) PREPARING PLANS TO CONDUCT A PLASTIC PLATE TEST DURING PROLIFERATION.

"(7) INTEGRATING MASSDATA INTO THE TRAINING BASE ACCOUNTING SYSTEMS (TRABAS).

"(8) PREPARING USER PROCEDURE MANUALS.

"(9) VERIFYING MARK SENSE FORMS AND DECISION LOGIC TABLES FOR ACCURACY AND COMPATIBILITY.

"(10) DEVELOPING TECHNIQUES FOR SOURCE DATA AUTOMATION OF PERSONNEL CHANGE INFORMATION PRESENTLY REPORTED ON DA FORM 2876.

"(11) SYSTEM ANALYSIS WITH RESPECT TO THOSE COMMANDS, SUCH AS, SOCOM, USARAL, ARADCOM, NOT UTILIZING STANDARD DA SOFTWARE.

"(12) DEVELOPING MASSDATA INTERFACE WITH SPECIAL RESERVE COMPONENT PERSONNEL (SRCP) AND STANDARD INSTALLATION DIVISION PERSONNEL SYSTEM (SIDPERS).

"C. DCSPER HAS MADE PLANS TO USE THE SIX SYSTEMS IN TRAINING.

"D. DELAY OF IMPLEMENTATION WOULD BE COSTLY TO THE ARMY. SPECIFICALLY, DCSPER PREDICTED COST SAVINGS AS A RESULT OF FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF MASSDATA OF APPROXIMATELY $73,000 PER MONTH. OTHER AREAS WHERE DELAY IMPACTS ON MASSDATA ARE RELATED TO TURNOVER OF MASSDATA PERSONNEL WHICH REFLECTS A CRITICAL LOSS OF EXPERTISE; INVALIDATION OF COORDINATION WITH PROJECT OFFICERS IN ARMY AREAS.

"E. IT WAS DETERMINED THAT THE FUNCTIONAL PROPONENT REQUIREMENTS COULD BE MET BY OFF-THE-SHELF EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURED BY MORE THAN ONE VENDOR. THIS EQUIPMENT IS NOT AS COMPLEX AS AN ENTIRE COMPUTER SYSTEM AND LED TO THE FINAL CONCLUSION THAT A LONG LEAD TIME WAS NOT NECESSARY FOR THE EARLY DELIVERY OF A MINIMAL SIX SYSTEMS."

IT IS WELL SETTLED THAT THE DRAFTING OF SPECIFICATIONS TO REFLECT THE MINIMUM NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT AND THE DETERMINATION AS TO WHETHER THOSE NEEDS CAN BE MET BY A GIVEN OFFER ARE PRIMARILY WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THE PROCURING AGENCY. 38 COMP. GEN. 190 (1958). IN VIEW OF THE ARMY'S POSITION DETAILED ABOVE, WE CANNOT CONCLUDE THAT THE DELIVERY REQUIREMENT WAS UNREASONABLE OR OTHERWISE ERRONEOUS.

YOU ALSO ALLEGE THAT THE RFP WAS RESTRICTIVE OF COMPETITION BECAUSE OF "THE MINIMUM 'SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS' WHEN COUPLED WITH THE RESTRICTIVE CRITERIA FOR SELECTION, LIMITS THE MANUFACTURERS WHO CAN RESPOND, POSSIBLY, TO ONLY ONE." THE RECORD INDICATES THAT PRIOR TO ISSUANCE OF THE RFP, THE COMPUTER SYSTEMS SUPPORT AND EVALUATION COMMAND CONDUCTED AN ANALYSIS OF THE SPECIAL EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS AND CONCLUDED THAT AT LEAST THREE PROSPECTIVE OFFERORS COULD MEET THE REQUIREMENTS BASED UPON THEIR TECHNICAL LITERATURE. IT IS ALSO REPORTED THAT THE SPECIAL EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS ARE DESIGNED TO INTERFACE WITH THE ALREADY ESTABLISHED ACTIVE ARMY REPORTING SYSTEM. AS ALREADY STATED, THE DRAFTING OF SPECIFICATIONS TO REFLECT THE MINIMUM NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT IS PRIMARILY WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF THE PROCURING AGENCY. WE FIND NO REASON TO CONCLUDE THAT THE PROCEDURES FOLLOWED IN THIS INSTANT CASE WERE ARBITRARY OR OTHERWISE RESTRICTIVE OF COMPETITION. AS ALREADY NOTED TWO OFFERS COMPLYING WITH THE REQUIREMENTS WERE RECEIVED AND AWARD HAS BEEN MADE.

ACCORDINGLY, FOR THE REASONS STATED, YOUR PROTEST IS DENIED.