B-171857(2), MAY 24, 1971

B-171857(2): May 24, 1971

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SECRETARY: REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER DATED MARCH 12. WHILE WE HAVE DEFERRED TO THE JUDGMENT OF THE SELECTION AND EVALUATING BOARD IN REGARD TO THE QUALIFICATION OF ITT DATA SERVICES UNDER THE SUBJECT RFP. IT APPEARS THAT THE SELECTION AND EVALUATING BOARD CONCLUDED THAT CAPCOMP WAS NOT ENTITLED TO A NEGOTIATION OPPORTUNITY BECAUSE ITS PROPOSAL FAILED TO ATTAIN THE 80 PERCENT SCORE IN PHASE TWO OF THE EVALUATION PROCEDURE PREDETERMINED AS AN ABSOLUTE CRITERION FOR AN ACCEPTABLE PROPOSAL. THEREFORE WAS NOT CONSIDERED TO BE WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE. WE THINK IT WAS REASONABLE ON THE BASIS OF SCORES ACTUALLY ACHIEVED TO DECIDE THAT CAPCOMP'S PROPOSAL WAS NOT WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE OF THE ACCEPTABLE PROPOSAL.

B-171857(2), MAY 24, 1971

BID PROTEST - COMPETITIVE RANGE - CUT OFF SCORE IN THE MATTER OF THE PROTEST OF CAPCOMP, INC., AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT UNDER AN RFP ISSUED FOR COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY TECHNIQUES, THE COMP. GEN. ADVISES THAT ESTABLISHING A CUT-OFF SCORE OF 80% IN PHASE TWO OF THE EVALUATION PROCEDURE AS AN ABSOLUTE CRITERION OF AN ACCEPTABLE PROPOSAL CONTRAVENES POLICY THAT THOSE OFFERS WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE MUST BE CONSIDERED ON THE BASIS OF THE ACTUAL ARRAY OF SCORES RECEIVED ALLOWING FOR MODIFICATION OF BORDERLINE PROPOSALS.

TO MR. SECRETARY:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO A LETTER DATED MARCH 12, 1971, FROM THE ACTING DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF PLANT AND OPERATIONS, OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FURNISHING A REPORT IN RESPONSE TO THE PROTEST OF CAPCOMP, INCORPORATED (CAPCOMP), AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO ANOTHER FIRM UNDER REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP) NO. ASCS-34- 71DC (NEG), ISSUED BY THE AGRICULTURAL STABILIZATION AND CONSERVATION SERVICE, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.

WHILE WE HAVE DEFERRED TO THE JUDGMENT OF THE SELECTION AND EVALUATING BOARD IN REGARD TO THE QUALIFICATION OF ITT DATA SERVICES UNDER THE SUBJECT RFP, WE BELIEVE THE SECOND PORTION OF THE PROTEST MERITS FURTHER DISCUSSION.

AS INDICATED IN OUR DECISION OF TODAY, COPY ENCLOSED, IT APPEARS THAT THE SELECTION AND EVALUATING BOARD CONCLUDED THAT CAPCOMP WAS NOT ENTITLED TO A NEGOTIATION OPPORTUNITY BECAUSE ITS PROPOSAL FAILED TO ATTAIN THE 80 PERCENT SCORE IN PHASE TWO OF THE EVALUATION PROCEDURE PREDETERMINED AS AN ABSOLUTE CRITERION FOR AN ACCEPTABLE PROPOSAL, AND THEREFORE WAS NOT CONSIDERED TO BE WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE. WE THINK IT WAS REASONABLE ON THE BASIS OF SCORES ACTUALLY ACHIEVED TO DECIDE THAT CAPCOMP'S PROPOSAL WAS NOT WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE OF THE ACCEPTABLE PROPOSAL. HOWEVER, IT IS OUR POSITION THAT THOSE OFFERS WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE MUST BE DECIDED ON THE BASIS OF THE ACTUAL ARRAY OF SCORES ACHIEVED AND NOT ON A PREDETERMINED SCORE FOR ACCEPTABILITY. SEE B-169645(1), JULY 24, 1970 (50 COMP. GEN. ). IT MUST BE BORNE IN MIND THAT THE PRIMARY CONSIDERATION IN NEGOTIATED PROCUREMENTS IS DISCUSSIONS WITH ALL OFFERORS WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE AS DETERMINED BY THE RELATIVE MERITS OF THE PROPOSALS AND BORDERLINE PROPOSALS SHOULD NOT BE AUTOMATICALLY EXCLUDED FROM CONSIDERATION IF THEY ARE REASONABLY SUSCEPTIBLE TO BEING MADE ACCEPTABLE BY ADDITIONAL OR CLARIFYING INFORMATION.

WE ALSO NOTE THAT COST WAS NOT UTILIZED AS A CRITERION IN THE TWO STEP EVALUATION PROCESS. IN THIS REGARD, OUR OFFICE HAS HELD THAT IN COST-TYPE PROCUREMENTS, THE COSTS PROPOSED BY THE OFFEROR ARE ONLY ESTIMATES AND FOR THIS REASON SUCH PROPOSALS SHOULD NOT BE EVALUATED STRICTLY ON A PRICE BASIS BUT THAT, NEVERTHELESS, PRICE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED IN THE EVALUATION OF PROPOSALS. B-171663, DATED APRIL 19, 1971 (50 COMP. GEN. ).

WE HOPE THAT IN FUTURE PROCUREMENTS OF THIS TYPE CLOSER ATTENTION WILL BE PAID TO THE SPIRIT AND RATIONALE BEHIND THE APPLICABLE REGULATIONS AND THAT THE EVALUATION PROCEDURE BASED ON A PREDETERMINED SCORE FOR ACCEPTABILITY WILL NO LONGER BE UTILIZED.

THE DOCUMENTS TRANSMITTED WITH THE LETTER OF MARCH 12 ARE RETURNED.