B-171762, APR 16, 1971

B-171762: Apr 16, 1971

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PROTESTANT'S CLAIM THAT LIMITING THE RFQ TO ONE TYPE OF AIRCRAFT IS UNDULY RESTRICTIVE IS COUNTERED BY THE SPECIAL CONDITIONS MAKING IT MORE ADVANTAGEOUS FOR NASA TO PROCEED AS IT DID. THE GRUMMAN PLANE WILL ALLOW NASA TO UTILIZE EXISTING GROUND SUPPORT EQUIPMENT. FAIRCHILD HILLER PROTESTED TO NASA AGAINST ISSUANCE OF THIS RFQ ON THE BASIS THAT IT WAS UNDULY RESTRICTIVE OF COMPETITION INASMUCH AS ONLY ONE GULFSTREAM I AIRCRAFT MODIFIED FOR CARGO USE WAS IN EXISTENCE. FURTHER ACTION ON THE PROCUREMENT WAS SUSPENDED PENDING A RE EVALUATION OF THE HIGH PRIORITY AIR TRANSPORT REQUIREMENTS IN LIGHT OF BOTH OPERATIONAL NEEDS AND THE PROTEST OF FAIRCHILD HILLER. THE RESULT OF THE RE-EVALUATION WAS A DECISION FOR OUTRIGHT PURCHASE OF A GULFSTREAM I AIRCRAFT WITH THE NECESSARY MODIFICATIONS FOR CARGO USE TO BE INSTALLED BY THE GOVERNMENT SUBSEQUENT TO PURCHASE.

B-171762, APR 16, 1971

BID PROTEST - RESTRICTIVE SPECIFICATIONS DENYING PROTEST OF FAIRCHILD HILLER CORPORATION AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT UNDER AN RFQ ISSUED BY NASA FOR ONE UNMODIFIED GRUMMAN GULFSTREAM I AIRCRAFT TO ANY OTHER FIRM. PROTESTANT'S CLAIM THAT LIMITING THE RFQ TO ONE TYPE OF AIRCRAFT IS UNDULY RESTRICTIVE IS COUNTERED BY THE SPECIAL CONDITIONS MAKING IT MORE ADVANTAGEOUS FOR NASA TO PROCEED AS IT DID, VIZ. THE GRUMMAN PLANE WILL ALLOW NASA TO UTILIZE EXISTING GROUND SUPPORT EQUIPMENT, SPARE PARTS, FLIGHT CREWS, ETC., WHEREAS A NEW PLANE WOULD REQUIRE EXTENSIVE REORGANIZATION OF FACILITIES AND WOULD REDUCE FLEXIBILITY.

TO FAIRCHILD HILLER CORPORATION:

WE REFER TO YOUR TELEFAX OF JANUARY 25, 1971, AND YOUR LETTERS OF MARCH 3, 16, AND 17, 1971, AND APRIL 1, 1971, CONCERNING YOUR PROTEST AGAINST AWARD OF ANY CONTRACT UNDER NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION REQUEST FOR QUOTATION NO. 1-0-13-60202.

SINCE 1965, MARSHALL SPACE FLIGHT CENTER (MSFC) HAS BEEN USING A FORMER NAVY C-47 AIRCRAFT BUILT IN 1946 TO PERFORM PRIORITY AND HIGH VALUE AIR TRANSPORT MISSIONS REQUIRED BY THE MANNED SPACE FLIGHT PROGRAM. AS THIS AIRCRAFT INCREASED IN AGE, ITS OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE COSTS INCREASED TO THE POINT THAT THE OFFICE OF MANNED SPACE FLIGHT REQUESTED ITS REPLACEMENT BY A MORE SUITABLE, MODERN AND ECONOMIC AIRCRAFT.

MSFC ISSUED RFQ NO. 1-0-13-60164 ON MARCH 31, 1970, TO OBTAIN, ON A LEASE -PURCHASE BASIS, ONE GULFSTREAM I AIRCRAFT MODIFIED FOR CARGO USE. FAIRCHILD HILLER PROTESTED TO NASA AGAINST ISSUANCE OF THIS RFQ ON THE BASIS THAT IT WAS UNDULY RESTRICTIVE OF COMPETITION INASMUCH AS ONLY ONE GULFSTREAM I AIRCRAFT MODIFIED FOR CARGO USE WAS IN EXISTENCE.

FURTHER ACTION ON THE PROCUREMENT WAS SUSPENDED PENDING A RE EVALUATION OF THE HIGH PRIORITY AIR TRANSPORT REQUIREMENTS IN LIGHT OF BOTH OPERATIONAL NEEDS AND THE PROTEST OF FAIRCHILD HILLER. THE RESULT OF THE RE-EVALUATION WAS A DECISION FOR OUTRIGHT PURCHASE OF A GULFSTREAM I AIRCRAFT WITH THE NECESSARY MODIFICATIONS FOR CARGO USE TO BE INSTALLED BY THE GOVERNMENT SUBSEQUENT TO PURCHASE. YOU WERE ADVISED OF THIS DECISION BY LETTER OF DECEMBER 15, 1970.

ON JANUARY 4, 1971, MSFC ISSUED REQUEST FOR QUOTATIONS NO. 1-0-13 60202 TO PURCHASE ONE UNMODIFIED GRUMMAN GULFSTREAM I, MODEL G-159, AIRCRAFT, WITH QUOTATIONS TO BE SUBMITTED BY JANUARY 25, 1971. BY YOUR TELEFAX OF JANUARY 25, 1971, YOU PROTESTED TO OUR OFFICE AGAINST ANY AWARD UNDER THE RFQ ON THE BASIS THAT IT IS SO UNDULY RESTRICTIVE AS TO PRECLUDE COMPETITION, RESULTING IN A PROCUREMENT LESS ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT, PRICE AND OTHER FACTORS CONSIDERED.

THE RECORD SUBMITTED WITH NASA'S REPORT OF FEBRUARY 17, 1971, DISCLOSES THAT NASA'S MINIMUM NEEDS CAN BE SATISFIED WITH A MEDIUM SIZE AIRCRAFT CAPABLE OF HANDLING SMALL LOT MOVEMENTS FROM 3,000 TO 5,000 POUNDS WITH AN AIRSPEED OF 300 TO 350 MILES PER HOUR. IN CONNECTION WITH THESE NEEDS, THREE CONVAIR AIRCRAFT MODELS WERE CONSIDERED AND REJECTED. ONLY THE GRUMMAN G-159, WITH A CAPACITY OF 8,100 POUNDS, AND THE FAIRCHILD F-227A, WITH A CAPACITY OF 13,200 POUNDS, WERE CONSIDERED SATISFACTORY FOR NASA'S REQUIREMENTS.

THE DECISION TO LIMIT THE PROCUREMENT TO THE GRUMMAN G-159, WHICH WAS REVIEWED AFTER YOUR INITIAL PROTEST, IS EXPLAINED IN A MEMORANDUM OF NOVEMBER 30, 1970, AS FOLLOWS:

"IN 1969, OMSF WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF THE THREE MSF CENTERS, PERFORMED AN EVALUATION OF OUR AIR CARGO/PASSENGER REQUIREMENTS TO MEET NASA PROGRAM NEEDS. SEVERAL AIRCRAFT, INCLUDING THE F-227, WERE SERIOUSLY CONSIDERED. AS A NECESSARY ELEMENT OF THIS EVALUATION, CONSIDERATION WAS GIVEN TO THE EXISTING ADMINISTRATIVE AIRCRAFT IN USE BY NASA AT MSFC, MSC, KSC, AND LRC. EACH OF THESE CENTERS HAS A GULFSTREAM (G-159) AIRCRAFT. NASA INITIALLY COMPETED ITS AIRCRAFT REQUIREMENTS IN 1962 AND ON THIS BASIS PURCHASED THEIR GULFSTREAMS FOR ASSIGNMENT TO MSFC, MSC, AND LRC. EACH OF THESE CENTERS HAS A GULFSTREAM (G-159) AIRCRAFT. NASA INITIALLY COMPETED ITS AIRCRAFT REQUIREMENTS IN 1962 AND ON THIS BASIS PURCHASED THEIR GULFSTREAMS FOR ASSIGNMENT TO MSFC, MSC, AND LRC. SUBSEQUENTLY, ONE ADDITIONAL G-159 WAS PURCHASED AND ASSIGNED TO KSC TO REPLACE A LEASED AIRCRAFT WHICH WAS IN USE THERE.

AS A RESULT OF THIS ORIGINAL UNRESTRICTED COMPETITION, THE PURCHASE OF G- 159 AIRCRAFT NECESSITATED THE TRAINING OF CREWS, PROVISIONS FOR AN INVENTORY OF SPARE PARTS, PURCHASE OF SPECIAL PURPOSE GROUND SUPPORT EQUIPMENT, HANGAR FACILITIES, AND MAINTENANCE CAPABILITIES. WITH THIS EXISTING INVENTORY OF PARTS, EQUIPMENT, AND SKILLS ANOTHER STANDARD CONFIGURED GULFSTREAM CAN BE SUPPORTED WITH A MINIMUM OF ADDITIONAL LOGISTICAL SUPPORT COSTS.

"FOR THESE REASONS WE HAVE CONCLUDED THAT A GULFSTREAM TYPE AIRCRAFT, CONFIGURED WITH A CARGO DOOR, WILL BE THE MOST COMPATIBLE AIRCRAFT FOR MEETING OUR REQUIREMENTS.

ALSO ATTACHED IS THE COST COMPARISON BETWEEN THE GULFSTREAM G-159 AND THE FAIRCHILD F-227 AIRCRAFT WHICH YOU ASKED FOR. AS CAN BE SEEN THRU THE COST COMPARISON, THE INITIAL START-UP COSTS OF INTRODUCING THE F 227 INTO OUR SYSTEMS WOULD BE SUBSTANTIALLY HIGHER THAN REQUIRED FOR INTRODUCING ANOTHER STANDARD GULFSTREAM AIRCRAFT."

THE COST ANALYSIS SUBMITTED WITH THE MEMORANDUM IS AS FOLLOWS:

"COST COMPARISON BETWEEN

FAIRCHILD HILLER F-227 & GRUMMAN G-159

FAIRCHILD HILLER F-227A GRUMMAN G 159

ESTIMATED COST OF AIRCRAFT $1,200,000 $950,000*

INITIAL TRAINING COST - PILOTS

AND MECHANICS $ 91,258 0

NEW GROUND HANDLING

EQUIPMENT AND TOOLS $ 25,000 0

ADDITIONAL NEW PARTS INVENTORY $ 40,000 $ 10,000

ADDITIONAL PERSONNEL $ 25,792 0

TOTAL $1,382,050 $960,000

COST DIFFERENCE - $422,050**

NOTE: IN ADDITION TO THE START-UP COSTS FOR INTRODUCTION OF A NON STANDARD AIRCRAFT, THERE WILL BE AN APPROXIMATE $75,000 ANNUAL SUPPORTING COST CONSISTING OF A PERCENTAGE OF THE ABOVE LOGISTICAL ELEMENTS TO MAINTAIN A NON-STANDARD AIRCRAFT.

* INCLUDES CARGO DOOR MODIFICATION.

** DUE TO LARGER SIZE OF F-227, NEW HANGAR FACILITIES, PARKING RAMP, AND TAXIWAY WILL BE REQUIRED. THIS IS ESTIMATED TO COST APPROXIMATELY $425,000."

THE NASA REPORT POINTS OUT THAT GRUMMAN NO LONGER MANUFACTURES MODELS G- 159 AND NEARLY 200 AIRCRAFT OF THIS TYPE ARE NOW IN OPERATION, SO THE PROCUREMENT IS NOT SOLE SOURCE, DESPITE BEING RESTRICTED TO THE ONE TYPE OF AIRCRAFT. THIRTY FIRMS WERE SOLICITED AND SIX RESPONDED WITH OFFERS FOR A TOTAL OF EIGHT OF THE G-159 AIRCRAFT.

WHILE RECOGNIZING THAT THE GREATER CARRYING CAPACITY OF THE F-227A MAY MORE THAN OFFSET ITS GREATER PER MILE COST OF OPERATION, THE NASA REPORT STATES THAT SUCH COMPARISONS ON THE BASIS OF COST PER TON MILE OR PASSENGER MILE HAVE SIGNIFICANCE ONLY IF THE AIRCRAFT IS OPERATED AT OR NEAR ITS RATED CAPACITY IN THE MANNER OF AN ORDINARY FREIGHT CARRIER. UNDER THE CONDITIONS OF NASA USAGE, SUCH CONSIDERATIONS ARE NOT PERTINENT BECAUSE IN MANY CASES THIS AIRCRAFT WILL BE USED TO TRANSPORT A SINGLE ITEM SUCH AS A SPACE SUIT, A COMPUTER ARRAY OR THE BATTERIES FOR A SPACE CRAFT. IN OTHER CASES IT WILL STAND BY AT A LAUNCH AREA, IN A STATE OF FLIGHT READINESS, IN CASE CRITICAL PARTS ARE NEEDED FOR THE LAUNCH FROM ELSEWHERE IN THE COUNTRY.

IN THESE SPECIALIZED CIRCUMSTANCES, WHERE THE AIRCRAFT WILL SELDOM BE OPERATED AT OR NEAR ITS RATED CAPACITY, NASA DETERMINED THAT THE FAIRCHILD HILLER AIRCRAFT, WITH TWICE THE CARGO AND PASSENGER CAPACITY OF THE G-159, WOULD BE LESS ECONOMICAL AND WOULD BE IN EXCESS OF NASA'S NEEDS.

IN SUMMARY, NASA'S CONCLUSION IS THAT THE FAIRCHILD FH-227 IS NOT NEARLY SO WELL SUITED TO NASA'S SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS AS THE GRUMMAN GULFSTREAM G- 159 WHICH HAS ADDED RANGE AND A FASTER CRUSING SPEED. ADDITIONALLY, PURCHASE OF A G-159 AIRCRAFT WILL ALLOW NASA TO UTILIZE EXISTING GROUND SUPPORT EQUIPMENT, SPARE PARTS INVENTORIES, HANGAR FACILITIES AND MAINTENANCE CAPABILITIES AT MARSHALL SPACE FLIGHT CENTER AND WILL PERMIT MARSHALL TO EXCHANGE FLIGHT CREWS AND EQUIPMENT WITH THE OTHER NASA CENTERS WHICH PRESENTLY MAINTAIN AND OPERATE FOUR G-159 AIRCRAFT, WHEN CIRCUMSTANCES REQUIRE REASSIGNMENT OF MEN AND EQUIPMENT. ON THE OTHER HAND, NASA STATES THAT PURCHASE OF AN F-227 WOULD REQUIRE PROCUREMENT OF ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT, SPARE PARTS INVENTORIES, TRAINING CAPABILITIES AND ADDITIONAL OR MODIFIED HANGAR FACILITIES AND WOULD REDUCE THE POTENTIAL FLEXIBILITY IN ASSIGNMENTS.

YOUR RESPONSE TO THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT, SUBMITTED ON MARCH 3, 1971, ASSERTS THREE BASES FOR YOUR PROTEST AS FOLLOWS:

"1. NASA'S FACTUAL DETERMINATIONS USED BY IT AS JUSTIFICATION FOR LIMITING THE PROCUREMENT TO GULFSTREAM I AIRCRAFT ARE CLEARLY ERRONEOUS.

2. NASA'S ERRONEOUS DETERMINATIONS CONSTITUTE THE BASIS FOR ITS ACTIONS IN CONTINUING TO RESTRICT THE PROCUREMENT TO A GULFSTREAM I AIRCRAFT, TO THE EXCLUSION OF FAIRCHILD'S AIRCRAFT, EVEN THOUGH NASA EXPRESSLY DETERMINED FAIRCHILD'S AIRCRAFT TO BE 'ENTIRELY SATISFACTORY FOR NASA REQUIREMENTS'.

3. THE REQUEST FOR QUOTATION LIMITED TO A GULFSTREAM I AIRCRAFT IS SO UNDULY RESTRICTIVE AS TO PRECLUDE COMPETITION, RESULTING IN A PROCUREMENT LESS ADVANTAGEOUS TO THE GOVERNMENT, PRICE AND OTHER FACTORS CONSIDERED."

EXHIBIT A WITH YOUR LETTER IS A COPY OF YOUR UNSOLICITED PROPOSAL OF FEBRUARY 24, 1971, TO NASA OFFERING TO SELL A USED FH-227E AIRCRAFT WITHOUT A LARGE CARGO DOOR AND WITH AIRLINE INTERIOR FOR $675,000, AND A USED FH-227E, WITH A LARGE CARGO DOOR, FOR $825,000. THE PROPOSAL ALSO OFFERS LEASE OF A USED FH-227E WITHOUT CARGO DOOR FOR $13,400.00 PER MONTH AND A USED FH-227E WITH CARGO DOOR FOR $16,400 PER MONTH, BOTH WITH OPTION TO PURCHASE. UNDER ANY OF THESE PROPOSALS, YOU OFFER TO CONDUCT GROUND AND FLIGHT TRAINING FOR A REASONABLE NUMBER OF PILOTS AND MECHANICS AT YOUR FACTORY AT HAGERSTOWN, MARYLAND, AT NO CHARGE TO NASA. YOU ALSO OFFER TO NEGOTIATE PLACEMENT OF A CONSIGNMENT STOCK OF SPARE PARTS AND SPECIAL TOOLS WITH NASA.

YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 16, 1971, ENCLOSES AN AFFIDAVIT OF RICHARD L. SPAULDING, DIRECTOR OF MARKETING FOR FAIRCHILD AIRCRAFT MARKETING COMPANY, WHICH STATES HIS ESTIMATE THAT THE COST TO NASA OF TRAINING SIX PILOTS AND THREE MECHANICS WOULD ACTUALLY AMOUNT TO $15,000 IF TRANSPORTATION TO HAGERSTOWN, PER DIEM, AND HIRING REPLACEMENT CREWS IS CONSIDERED. THE OFFER OF TRAINING AT NO COST TO NASA IS EXPLAINED IN YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 17, 1971, AS EXTENDING ONLY TO FURNISHING AN AIRCRAFT AND INSTRUCTORS, WHICH YOU ESTIMATE TO BE WORTH $16,500. YOU SUGGEST THAT THE TOTAL OF THESE TWO AMOUNTS, $31,500 SHOULD BE USED RATHER THAN THE NASA ESTIMATE OF $91,258 FOR THE INITIAL COST OF TRAINING PILOTS AND MECHANICS.

MR. SPAULDING'S AFFIDAVIT ALSO STATES HIS BELIEF THAT NO NEW GROUND HANDLING EQUIPMENT OR TOOLS WOULD BE REQUIRED FOR THE FAIRCHILD AIRCRAFT AND THAT THE OFFER TO NEGOTIATE PLACEMENT OF SPARE PARTS ON A CONSIGNMENT BASIS WOULD ELIMINATE THE COST OF THE ADDITIONAL SPARE PARTS INVENTORY. WITH REGARD TO THE ESTIMATE FOR NEW HANGAR FACILITIES, PARKING RAMP AND TAXIWAY, THE AFFIDAVIT ASSERTS THAT NO NEW FACILITIES WOULD BE REQUIRED, THAT THE FORWARD PORTION OF THE FAIRCHILD AIRCRAFT COULD BE TAKEN INTO THE EXISTING HANGAR FOR MAINTENANCE AND A MODIFICATION COSTING NO MORE THAN $1,000 WOULD ALLOW THE DOORS TO BE CLOSED AROUND THE TAIL SECTION. PHOTOGRAPHS WERE ATTACHED SHOWING THIS METHOD OF HANGARING IS WIDELY USED IN THE AVIATION INDUSTRY IN ALL TYPES OF WEATHER CONDITIONS.

WE OBSERVE THAT YOUR UNSOLICITED PROPOSAL, WHICH ATTEMPTS TO SET UP A COST COMPARISON FAVORABLE TO YOUR AIRCRAFT, WAS SUBMITTED AFTER THE NASA ESTIMATE OF START-UP COSTS WAS FURNISHED TO YOU. MOREOVER, YOUR COST ESTIMATES RELATE ONLY TO ACQUISITION OF YOUR AIRCRAFT BY NASA AND DO NOT ADDRESS THE BROADER PROBLEMS INHERENT IN INTRODUCING A DIFFERENT TYPE OF AIRCRAFT INTO NASA'S EXISTING FLEET WHICH PRESENTLY HAS FOUR G 159 AIRCRAFT.

NASA CONSIDERS IT MOST DESIRABLE TO ACHIEVE FLEXIBILITY IN ASSIGNMENT OF CREWS AND AIRCRAFT BETWEEN VARIOUS CENTERS. IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE THE SAME FLEXIBILITY WHICH WOULD RESULT FROM ADDING ANOTHER G-159, IT WOULD APPEAR TO BE NECESSARY TO TRAIN ALL CREWS NOW OPERATING G-159 AIRCRAFT TO HANDLE THE FAIRCHILD AIRCRAFT. YOUR ESTIMATE OF THE COST OF TRAINING SIX PILOTS AND THREE MECHANICS FOR THE FAIRCHILD AIRCRAFT ALONE IS $31,500, OF WHICH FAIRCHILD WOULD ABSORB $16,500. THE COST OF TRAINING THE ADDITIONAL CREWS NOW OPERATING THE FOUR G-159 AIRCRAFT, BY YOUR ESTIMATE, COULD RUN AS HIGH AS $126,000, DEPENDING ON THE NUMBER OF REPLACEMENT CREWS HIRED DURING TRAINING. IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, WE ARE NOT INCLINED TO REGARD THE NASA ESTIMATE OF $91,258 FOR ADDITIONAL TRAINING AS EXCESSIVE. IF YOUR FIGURES ARE CORRECT, THE NASA ESTIMATE ERRS ONLY IN BEING TOO CONSERVATIVE.

ALTHOUGH YOUR UNSOLICITED PROPOSAL OF FEBRUARY 24, 1971, OFFERS TO NEGOTIATE PLACEMENT WITH NASA OF A CONSIGNMENT STOCK OF SPARE PARTS AND SPECIAL TOOLS, THE AFFIDAVIT WITH YOUR LETTER OF MARCH 16, 1971, ASSERTS THAT NO SPECIAL TOOLS WILL BE REQUIRED. WE DO NOT REGARD THE LATE SUBMISSION OF INFORMATION OF THIS TYPE AS SUFFICIENT TO NEGATE NASA'S CONCLUSION, MADE WITHOUT THE BENEFIT OF SUCH ADVICE, THAT ADDITIONAL SPARE PARTS AND SPECIAL TOOLS WOULD HAVE TO BE PURCHASED.

YOU ALSO CONTEND THAT NASA'S ESTIMATE OF $75,000 TO $100,000 FOR INSTALLING A CARGO DOOR ON THE G-159 IS TOO LOW, AND THAT THE CORRECT COST WOULD APPROACH $200,000. A REVIEW OF THE OFFERS RECEIVED IN RESPONSE TO THE REQUEST DISCLOSES THAT FIVE OF THE EIGHT AIRCRAFT OFFERED COULD BE PURCHASED AND MODIFIED AT A COST BELOW THE TOTAL NASA ESTIMATE OF $950,000 ON THE BASIS OF $100,000 FOR THE CARGO DOOR INSTALLATION. HOWEVER, EVEN USE OF THE FIGURE $200,000 FOR THE MODIFICATION, AS YOU SUGGEST, WOULD NOT PRECLUDE PURCHASE AND MODIFICATION OF A G-159 AT A TOTAL PRICE WELL BELOW NASA'S TOTAL ESTIMATE FOR THE PROCUREMENT. IN OUR VIEW, THE ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD AND THE INFORMATION YOU HAVE SUBMITTED ADEQUATELY SUPPORT A CONCLUSION THAT IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE FOR NASA TO PERFORM MAINTENANCE OF A FAIRCHILD AIRCRAFT WITH ONLY A MINOR MODIFICATION OF THE EXISTING HANGAR INSTEAD OF ADDING A HANGAR OF SUFFICIENT SIZE TO ACCOMMODATE YOUR LARGER AIRCRAFT. HOWEVER, EVEN ELIMINATION OF NEW HANGAR FACILITIES FROM THE START-UP COSTS DOES NOT ESTABLISH A WELL DEFINED COST ADVANTAGE FOR YOUR AIRCRAFT.

WHILE WE THINK THE COST COMPARISONS IN THIS CASE ARE INCONCLUSIVE, THE ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD INDICATES THAT COSTS WERE NOT A MAJOR FACTOR IN THE DECISION TO LIMIT THE PROCUREMENT TO THE G-159 AIRCRAFT. INSTEAD, NASA DETERMINED THAT ITS REQUIREMENTS WERE FOR AN AIRCRAFT HAVING A CARGO CAPACITY OF 3,000 TO 5,000 POUNDS, AND WHILE IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THIS REQUIREMENT COULD BE MET BY YOUR AIRCRAFT WITH A CAPACITY OF 13,200 POUNDS, IT IS EQUALLY OBVIOUS THAT THE G-159 WITH A CAPACITY OF 8,100 POUNDS MORE NEARLY APPROACHES THE DESIRED SIZE. THE FACT THAT YOUR AIRCRAFT HAS SLIGHTLY SLOWER CRUISING SPEED AND SHORTER RANGE ALSO ENTERED INTO THE DECISION.

ON THE RECORD, IT APPEARS THAT THE MAJOR FACTOR IN THE DECISION TO LIMIT THE PROCUREMENT TO THE G-159 WAS ITS COMPATIBILITY WITH EXISTING CREW AND MAINTENANCE CAPABILITIES ARISING FROM THE PRESENT OPERATION OF FOUR OTHER G-159 AIRCRAFT, AND THE POTENTIAL FLEXIBILITY OF ASSIGNMENTS OF CREWS AND AIRCRAFT BETWEEN THE VARIOUS NASA CENTERS WHICH WOULD RESULT FROM ADDING A SIMILAR AIRCRAFT RATHER THAN A DIFFERENT TYPE WHICH WOULD BE "ONE OF A KIND" IN NASA'S FLEET. THE FACT THAT NASA HAS OPERATED A C-47 FOR ITS HIGHER PRIORITY CARGO MISSIONS FOR THE PAST FIVE YEARS DOES NOT NEGATE THE DESIRABILITY OF THIS POTENTIAL FLEXIBILITY.

OUR OFFICE HAS CONSISTENTLY HELD THAT ESTABLISHING SPECIFICATIONS REFLECTING THE ACTUAL NEEDS OF THE GOVERNMENT IS PRIMARILY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PROCURING AGENCY. 17 COMP. GEN. 554 (1938); 40 ID. 294 (1960); 49 ID. 156, 160 (1969). WHILE WE MAY DETERMINE WHETHER SPECIFICATIONS AS WRITTEN ARE UNDULY RESTRICTIVE OF COMPETITION, IN THE PRESENT CASE WE FIND NO ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN NASA'S DECISION TO LIMIT THE PROCUREMENT TO THE G-159 AIRCRAFT. WE BELIEVE THE RECORD ESTABLISHES THAT NASA CHOSE THE AIRCRAFT IT FELT MOST NEARLY SATISFIED ITS NEEDS, AND IN OUR OPINION PRESENTED ADEQUATE JUSTIFICATION FOR ITS DECISION. NEITHER CAN IT BE SAID THAT THE GOVERNMENT WAS DEPRIVED OF THE BENEFIT OF COMPETITION INASMUCH AS SIX FIRMS NOW OPERATING THE G 159 RESPONDED WITH OFFERS FOR EIGHT DIFFERENT AIRCRAFT.

FOR THE FOREGOING REASONS, WE FIND NO LEGAL BASIS FOR OBJECTING TO THE SPECIFICATIONS IN THIS ..END :