B-172105, MAR 7, 1972

B-172105: Mar 7, 1972

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AWARD WAS MADE BY THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (GSA) PURSUANT TO SECTION 111. GSA SUBMITS THAT THE IBM FORM IS RESPONSIVE TO THE ORIGINAL SPECIFICATIONS SINCE A FULL FIELD CAN. THIS INTERPRETATION IS WELL WITHIN THE AGENCY'S WIDE RANGE OF DISCRETION AND. SINCE ITS POSITION IS THAT THE ANSWER TO QUESTION 8 DID NOT RELAX THE RFP REQUIREMENT. ARE INAPPLICABLE. OPSCAN'S OBJECTIONS WOULD MORE PROPERLY HAVE BEEN BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF GSA PRIOR TO AWARD. IT IS FURTHER PROTESTED THAT THE TIME EXTENSION FOR QUALIFICATION OF ITS EQUIPMENT ALLOWED IBM AN UNFAIR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE. ALTHOUGH THE GOVERNMENT'S FAILURE TO ISSUE A FORMAL AMENDMENT MAY HAVE BEEN IMPROPER. IT APPEARS THAT THE EXTENSION INVOLVED ONLY A MINOR TECHNICAL MODIFICATION AND THE RECORD INDICATES THAT OPSCAN WAS AWARE OF THE TIME WAIVER WHEN IT SUBMITTED ITS BID.

B-172105, MAR 7, 1972

BID PROTEST - NONRESPONSIVENESS - ALLEGED IMPROPER PROCUREMENT DECISION DENYING PROTEST OF OPTICAL SCANNING CORPORATION (OPSCAN) AGAINST AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINE CORPORATION (IMB) UNDER AN RFP ISSUED BY THE ARMY COMPUTER SYSTEMS AND SUPPORT EVALUATION COMMAND FOR OPTICAL MARK SYSTEMS AND SUPPORTING SERVICES. AWARD WAS MADE BY THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (GSA) PURSUANT TO SECTION 111, FEDERAL PROPERTY AND ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES ACT OF 1949, 79 STAT. 1127, AS AMENDED (40 U.S.C. 759). IN RESPONSE TO PROTESTANT'S INITIAL CONTENTION, GSA SUBMITS THAT THE IBM FORM IS RESPONSIVE TO THE ORIGINAL SPECIFICATIONS SINCE A FULL FIELD CAN, IN FACT, BE SPECIFIED WITHIN EITHER OF THE TWO "ROWS" AS ALPHABETIC, NUMERIC, ALPHANUMERIC, OR BLANK. THIS INTERPRETATION IS WELL WITHIN THE AGENCY'S WIDE RANGE OF DISCRETION AND, SINCE ITS POSITION IS THAT THE ANSWER TO QUESTION 8 DID NOT RELAX THE RFP REQUIREMENT, THE AMENDMENT PROVISIONS OF SECTION 1-3.805-1(D), FPR, ARE INAPPLICABLE. IN ANY EVENT, OPSCAN'S OBJECTIONS WOULD MORE PROPERLY HAVE BEEN BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF GSA PRIOR TO AWARD. IT IS FURTHER PROTESTED THAT THE TIME EXTENSION FOR QUALIFICATION OF ITS EQUIPMENT ALLOWED IBM AN UNFAIR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE. ALTHOUGH THE GOVERNMENT'S FAILURE TO ISSUE A FORMAL AMENDMENT MAY HAVE BEEN IMPROPER, IT APPEARS THAT THE EXTENSION INVOLVED ONLY A MINOR TECHNICAL MODIFICATION AND THE RECORD INDICATES THAT OPSCAN WAS AWARE OF THE TIME WAIVER WHEN IT SUBMITTED ITS BID. ACCORDINGLY, THE COMP. GEN. IS UNABLE TO CONCLUDE THAT THE AGENCY'S ACTION WAS IN ANY WAY PREJUDICIAL. WITH REGARD TO PROTESTANT'S FINAL CONTENTION, GSA HAS CERTIFIED THAT THE IBM EQUIPMENT HAS MORE THAN ENOUGH EXPANSION CAPABILITY TO TAKE CARE OF PROJECTED FUTURE WORKLOAD OVER THE EQUIPMENT LIFE CYCLE. FOR THE FOREGOING REASONS, THE PROTEST IS DENIED.

TO SELLERS, CONNER & CUNEO:

WE REFER TO A TELEFAX DATED MARCH 8, 1971, FROM THE OPTICAL SCANNING CORPORATION (OPSCAN) AND SUBSEQUENT CORRESPONDENCE FROM YOU ON BEHALF OF OPSCAN PROTESTING THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORPORATION (IBM) UNDER THE UNITED STATES ARMY'S MASSDATA PROJECT NO. HOOA-70.

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP) NO. USACSSEC-B (HOOA-70) WAS ISSUED ON OCTOBER 16, 1970, BY THE UNITED STATES ARMY COMPUTER SYSTEMS SUPPORT AND EVALUATION COMMAND FOR OPTICAL MARK SYSTEMS AND SUPPORTING SERVICES TO BE USED AT 80 WORLD-WIDE INSTALLATIONS TO RECORD DATA ON THE STATUS OF PERSONNEL AND TO REDUCE SUCH DATA TO COMPUTER READABLE FORM.

PROPOSALS WERE RECEIVED FROM IBM AND OPSCAN BY THE SCHEDULED CLOSING DATE OF NOVEMBER 19, 1970. NEGOTIATIONS WITH BOTH FIRMS FOLLOWED, CULMINATING IN AN AWARD TO IBM ON MARCH 2, 1971, AT A COST EVALUATED TO BE $2.4 MILLION LOWER THAN THE COST OF THE SYSTEMS OFFERED BY OPSCAN. THE AWARD WAS MADE BY THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (GSA) PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY OF SECTION 111 OF THE FEDERAL PROPERTY AND ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES ACT OF 1949, 79 STAT. 1127, AS AMENDED (40 U.S.C. 759).

PART III OF THE SUBJECT RFP ENTITLED "SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS" PROVIDES IN PART:

"IN ORDER TO BE RESPONSIVE TO THIS RFP, THE VENDOR MUST SATISFY THE REQUIREMENTS STATED IN THIS PART. THE REQUIREMENTS, AS STATED ARE THE MINIMUM. *** "

PARAGRAPH 4.B(7) OF PART III STATES:

"PROPOSED EQUIPMENT MUST READ A MINIMUM OF 1400 RESPONSE POSITIONS PER INPUT DOCUMENT. AT THE USER'S OPTION, WITHIN ANY ROW A FIELD WILL BE SPECIFIED AS ALPHABETIC, NUMERIC, ALPHANUMERIC, OR BLANK."

PARAGRAPH 10 OF PART I OF THE RFP PROVIDED THAT VENDORS COULD SUBMIT WRITTEN QUESTIONS CONCERNING THE RFP AND THAT QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WOULD BE PROVIDED IN WRITING TO ALL VENDORS WHO RECEIVED THE RFP. THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WERE SUPPLIED TO EACH OFFEROR.

"QUESTION #1

WHAT IS THE NUMBER OF RESPONSE POSITIONS PER SIDE ON EACH TYPE OF INPUT DOCUMENT, AND HOW MANY CARD COLUMNS DOES EACH DOCUMENT PUNCH OUT?

"ANSWER:

FOR PURPOSES OF EVALUATION, 1400 RESPONSE POSITIONS PER SINGLE PASS OF EACH INPUT DOCUMENT WILL BE ASSUMED. THESE MAY BE SPLIT IN ANY MANNER BETWEEN THE TWO SIDES OF EACH INPUT DOCUMENT. ANY DEVIATIONS FROM ONE SIDE ONLY FOR THE RESPONSE POSITIONS WILL BE NOTED IN TAB 9.

FOR PURPOSES OF EVALUATION 80 CARD COLUMNS OF CARD OUTPUT WILL BE ASSUMED FOR EACH INPUT DOCUMENT.

"QUESTION #2

WHAT IS THE NUMBER OF FIELDS PER INPUT DOCUMENT AND HOW MANY RESPONSE POSITIONS ARE THERE PER FIELD?

"ANSWER:

PAGE III-2, PART III, SECTION 4, ANNEX B, PARA 7, STATES:

'PROPOSED EQUIPMENT MUST READ A MINIMUM OF 1400 RESPONSE POSITIONS PER INPUT DOCUMENT. AT THE USER'S OPTION, WITHIN ANY ROW, A FIELD WILL BE SPECIFIED AS ALPHABETIC, NUMERIC, OR BLANK.'

THE EXACT FORMAT OF EACH INPUT DOCUMENT IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE ON AN IRREGULAR BASIS IN ORDER TO MAXIMIZE THE AMOUNT OF USABLE INFORMATION INSERTED ON ONE DOCUMENT WHILE MAINTAINING EASE OF USE. THE NUMBER OF FIELDS PER INPUT DOCUMENT IS NOT FIXED. THE NUMBER OF RESPONSE POSITIONS PER FIELD IS NOT FIXED.

"QUESTION #8

WILL A FIELD THAT CONSISTS OF FOUR COLUMNS (OR ROWS) FOR A TOTAL OF 40 SINGLE MARK SENSE POSITIONS BE ACCEPTABLE AS A CODING TECHNIQUE FOR ALPHANUMERIC INFORMATION? (THE TOTAL FIELD CONSISTS OF 30 MARK SENSE AVAILABLE POSITIONS FOR THE 26 ALPHA CHAR. AND 10 AVAILABLE POSITIONS FOR THE 10 DIGITS WHERE ANY FIELD WILL BE SPECIFIED AS ALPHABETIC, NUMERIC, ALPHANUMERIC, OR BLANK.)

"ANSWER:

YES. HOWEVER, THE USER IS DENIED CONTROL OF 4 OF THE 30 POSITIONS FOR ALPHABETIC USAGE AS REQUIRED BY PARAGRAPH 4.B(7), LINE 2, PAGE III 2, 'AT THE USERS OPTION, WITHIN ANY ROW A FIELD WILL BE SPECIFIED AS ALPHABETIC, NUMERIC, ALPHANUMERIC, OR BLANK'. TO COMPENSATE FOR THIS, A MINIMUM OF 1618 POSITIONS OF THE TYPE YOU SUGGEST MUST BE PROPOSED TO MEET THE REQUIREMENT OF THE FIRST SENTENCE (LINE 1 OF ABOVE REFERENCE) WHICH STATES, 'PROPOSED EQUIPMENT MUST READ A MINIMUM OF 1400 RESPONSE POSITIONS.'"

FIRST, YOU ASSAIL THE LEGAL VALIDITY OF THE SUBJECT AWARD BASED ON THE CONTENTION THAT THE IBM PROPOSAL AS ACCEPTED BY GSA CONTAINS A MATERIAL DEVIATION FROM THE SPECIFICATION CONTAINED IN PARAGRAPH 4.B(7) OF PART III OF THE RFP AS CLARIFIED BY THE ABOVE-CITED ANSWERS. IN THE ALTERNATIVE YOU CONTEND THAT IF THE ANSWER TO QUESTION NO. 8 IS CONSIDERED TO HAVE RELAXED THE ABOVE-CITED REQUIREMENT IN REGARD TO THE FIELD CONTENT OF A PARTICULAR ROW, THEREBY MAKING IBM'S PROPOSAL ACCEPTABLE, THEN THE INSTANT AWARD IS LEGALLY DEFICIENT DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE RFP WAS NOT AMENDED IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 1-3.805-1(D) OF THE FEDERAL PROCUREMENT REGULATIONS (FPR).

MORE SPECIFICALLY YOU CONTEND THAT THE FORM PROVIDED BY IBM NECESSITATES A METHOD OF CODING WHICH DOES NOT ALLOW THE USER TO SPECIFY A FIELD, WITHIN ANY ROW, AS EITHER ALPHABETIC, NUMERIC, ALPHANUMERIC OR BLANK AS REQUIRED BY THE RFP.

THE SUBJECT IBM FORM IS DIVIDED INTO TWO SECTIONS WHICH RUN ALONG THE LONG OR 11 INCH AXIS OF THE SHEET. EACH SECTION CONSISTS OF 83 COLUMNS, EACH CONTAINING TEN MARK SENSE POSITIONS PER COLUMN. THREE COLUMNS ARE NECESSARY TO CREATE AN ALPHABETIC FIELD AND FOUR ARE NEEDED FOR AN ALPHANUMERIC FIELD. THE SHEET CONTAINS MORE THAN 1,400 MARK SENSE POSITIONS. YOU ASSERT THAT THE TERM "ROW" AS UTILIZED IN THE SUBJECT RFP IS INTENDED TO DENOTE A SINGLE SERIES OF OBJECTS OR POINTS (MARK SENSE POSITIONS) ALONG A STRAIGHT LINE. UTILIZING THIS LINE OF REASONING YOU CONCLUDE THAT SINCE EACH COLUMN OF TEN MARK SENSE POSITIONS MUST CONSTITUTE A "ROW" THEN THE IBM FORM, WHICH REQUIRES FOUR SUCH "ROWS" TO CONSTITUTE AN ALPHANUMERIC FIELD, DOES NOT MEET THE SPECIFICATION WHICH REQUIRES THAT A SINGLE ROW MUST BE CAPABLE OF SPECIFYING EITHER AN ALPHABETIC, NUMERIC, ALPHANUMERIC, OR A BLANK FIELD.

ON THE OTHER HAND, IBM AND GSA CONTEND THAT THE SUBJECT FORM IS RESPONSIVE BASED ON THE ARGUMENT THAT THE FORM IS ARRANGED IN TWO PARALLEL LONGITUDINAL "ROWS" EACH CONTAINING 83 COLUMNS OF 10 MARK SENSE POSITIONS. SINCE ONLY FOUR OF THESE COLUMNS ARE REQUIRED FOR AN ALPHANUMERIC FIELD, THIS LINE OF REASONING HOLDS THAT A FULL FIELD CAN IN FACT BE SPECIFIED WITHIN EITHER OF THE TWO "ROWS."

IT IS CLEAR FROM THE SPECIFICATIONS THAT THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT THAT ROWS BE ARRANGED ON A PARTICULAR AXIS OR THAT FIELDS MUST CONSIST OF ONLY SINGLE COLUMNS OF MARK SENSE POINTS. IN FACT IT APPEARS FROM THE ANSWER TO QUESTION NO. 8 THAT THE GSA INTERPRETATION OF "ROW" WOULD ALLOW A FOUR COLUMN FIELD TO BE INCLUDED WITHIN A SINGLE "ROW." IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE, WE CANNOT SAY THAT GSA'S ACCEPTANCE OF THE IBM FORM AS RESPONSIVE TO THE SPECIFICATION WAS UNREASONABLE. IN ADDITION, IT WOULD SEEM THAT IF OPSCAN HAD ANY DOUBTS AS TO THE VALIDITY OF THE INTERPRETATION OF THE SPECIFICATIONS AS EVIDENCED BY GSA'S ANSWER, WHICH WAS RECEIVED BY OPSCAN BEFORE ITS PROPOSAL WAS SUBMITTED, IT SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT THEM TO THE AGENCY'S ATTENTION BEFORE THE AWARD WAS MADE. BASED UPON THE RECORD BEFORE US, WE CONCLUDE THAT THE AGENCY HAS NOT ABUSED ITS RATHER WIDE RANGE OF DISCRETION IN DETERMINING THE IBM PROPOSAL TECHNICALLY ACCEPTABLE.

SINCE WE HAVE DETERMINED THAT GSA WAS WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF ITS DISCRETION IN ACCEPTING THE IBM PROPOSAL, AND IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT GSA CONTENDS THAT THEIR ANSWER TO QUESTION NO. 8 CONSTITUTED NO RELAXATION OR MODIFICATION OF THE SPECIFICATIONS WE CANNOT SAY THAT THE ABOVEMENTIONED ANSWER CONSTITUTED A VIOLATION OF THE REQUIREMENT FOR A WRITTEN AMENDMENT CONTAINED IN FPR 1-3.805-1(D).

YOU ALSO LEVEL SEVERAL CRITICISMS AT IBM'S FORM DESIGN TO THE EFFECT THAT THEIR METHOD IS CONFUSING, IMPOSES UNDUE RESTRAINTS TO THE FORM'S DESIGN, WILL LEAD TO A HIGH ERROR RATE, AND REQUIRES MORE FORMS AND SCANNING TIME.

THE AGENCY'S REPLY IN PART, IS AS FOLLOWS:

" *** THE SYSTEMS SPECIFICATIONS, OF COURSE, WERE INTENDED TO IMPOSE LIMITS ON ANY SUCH UNFAVORABLE SYSTEMS DESIGN CHARACTERISTICS. HOWEVER, TO THE EXTENT THAT THE RFP SPECIFICATIONS AND EVALUATION CRITERIA DID NOT ADDRESS THESE CHARACTERISTICS, THEY PLAYED NO PART IN EQUIPMENT EVALUATION AND SELECTION. FOR EXAMPLE, THE RFP SET NO LIMIT ON THE NUMBER OF DATA SHEETS USED TO CAPTURE AND PROCESS REQUIRED DATA, AND THE FACT THAT ONE PROPOSED SYSTEM REQUIRED THE USE OF MORE DATA FORMS THAN ANOTHER SYSTEM, PLAYED NO ROLE IN THE SELECTION PROCESS. IN FACT, THE IBM SYSTEM USES 8 DATA SHEET FORMS AND OPSCAN PROPOSED A SYSTEM USING 6 FORMS. HOWEVER, THE USACSSEC EVALUATORS DID NOT FIND THE IBM FORM DESIGN AND CODING TECHNIQUES TO BE MORE ERROR PRONE OR IN ANY WAY INFERIOR TO THOSE OF THE OPSCAN SYSTEM. *** "

WE BELIEVE THAT THE ABOVE-CITED RESPONSE BY GSA IS DISPOSITIVE OF THE ISSUES RAISED IN REGARD TO THE ADEQUACY OF THE ACCEPTED IBM DESIGN.

NEXT YOU CONTEND THAT THE SUBJECT AWARD SHOULD BE VOIDED BECAUSE IBM WAS AFFORDED AN UNFAIR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE BY BEING GRANTED A TIME EXTENSION FOR QUALIFICATION OF ITS EQUIPMENT.

THE RFP STATES AT PARAGRAPH 4 OF PART III THAT IN ORDER TO BE RESPONSIVE THE VENDOR'S PROPOSED EQUIPMENT MUST BE ON THE ARMY QUALIFIED EQUIPMENT LIST BY THE DATE SPECIFIED IN THE COVER LETTER. THE DATE SPECIFIED IS NOVEMBER 19, 1970. AS OF THAT DATE IBM'S EQUIPMENT WAS NOT TOTALLY QUALIFIED AND QUALIFICATION WAS NOT COMPLETED UNTIL LATE IN DECEMBER 1970. YOU ASSERT THAT HAD OPSCAN BEEN COGNIZANT OF THE AVAILABILITY OF SUCH EXTENSION TIME THEN OPSCAN WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO SPEED UP DEVELOPMENT OF ITS NEW MODEL AND OFFER IT TO THE GOVERNMENT AT A PRICE OF APPROXIMATELY TWO-THIRDS OF THE PRICE OF THE IBM SYSTEM. GSA'S POSITION IN PERTINENT PART, IS SET FORTH BELOW:

"THE IBM MACHINE FEATURE NOT QUALIFIED ON NOVEMBER 19, 1970, WAS THE RPQ FA 2984 (EXPANDED INPUT SHEET). THE DESCRIPTION OF THIS FEATURE *** INDICATES A MINOR TECHNICAL MODIFICATION WHICH CONSISTED OF REPLACING THE STANDARD DELAY LINES OF THE IBM 1232 WITH LONGER DELAY LINES.

"WE ARE UNABLE TO PLACE ANY CREDENCE IN OPSCAN'S ALLEGATION THAT IT WAS DENIED AN OPPORTUNITY TO OFFER A MODIFIED SYSTEM BECAUSE OF THE NOVEMBER 19 EQUIPMENT QUALIFICATION DATE AND THE FACT THAT IT WAS NOT GIVEN ABOUT SIX WEEKS AFTER THAT DATE IN WHICH TO QUALIFY THE MODIFIED SYSTEM.

"AS A MATTER OF FACT, OPSCAN KNEW WHEN IT SUBMITTED ITS PROPOSAL THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAD ALREADY WAIVED THE NOVEMBER 19 EQUIPMENT QUALIFICATION DATE. OPSCAN SUBMITTED ITS PROPOSAL ON OR JUST BEFORE NOVEMBER 19. BUT AT THAT TIME, OPSCAN, LIKE IBM, HAD NOT YET QUALIFIED CERTAIN MACHINE FEATURES, AND WAS IN THE PROCESS OF MAKING ARRANGEMENTS WITH USACSSEC FOR SUCH QUALIFICATION *** . THE EQUIPMENT QUALIFICATION DATE THUS BECAME A MATTER OF NEGOTIATION AND OPSCAN COULD HAVE OFFERED ITS MODIFIED SYSTEM WITH THE SIX-WEEK PERIOD FOR EQUIPMENT QUALIFICATION WHICH IT ALLEGES WAS NEEDED. THERE IS EVERY ASSURANCE THAT THE PROPOSAL WOULD HAVE BEEN DULY CONSIDERED AND EVALUATED BY THE GOVERNMENT SINCE AN ACCEPTABLE SYSTEM AT ABOUT TWO-THIRDS THE PRICE OF THE IBM SYSTEM WOULD HAVE BEEN OF GREAT BENEFIT TO THE GOVERNMENT AND THERE WAS MORE THAN SIX WEEKS AVAILABLE FOR EQUIPMENT QUALIFICATION WITHOUT THE NECESSITY OF SLIPPING ANY PERFORMANCE DATES.

"IN VIEW OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES DESCRIBED ABOVE, AND BECAUSE THERE WERE NO COMPETITORS IN THE PROCUREMENT OTHER THAN IBM AND OPSCAN, AND ONLY RELATIVELY MINOR MACHINE FEATURES HAD TO BE QUALIFIED, USACSSEC DID NOT CONSIDER IT NECESSARY TO ISSUE A FORMAL AMENDMENT TO THE RFP CHANGING THE EQUIPMENT QUALIFICATION DATE. INSTEAD, THE NOVEMBER 19 DEADLINE WAS CONSIDERED WAIVED AND QUALIFICATION WAS ARRANGED WITH EACH VENDOR, PRIMARILY ON THE BASIS OF AVAILABILITY OF USACSSEC PERSONNEL FOR EQUIPMENT DEMONSTRATION AT THE VENDOR'S PLANT.

"ADMITTEDLY, THE GOVERNMENT'S BEST COURSE OF ACTION WOULD HAVE BEEN TO ISSUE A FORMAL AMENDMENT TO THE RFP FIXING A NEW EQUIPMENT QUALIFICATION DATE COMMON TO BOTH VENDORS. HOWEVER, WE DO NOT PERCEIVE ANY PREJUDICIAL ERROR ON THE GOVERNMENT'S PART IN FAILING TO FORMALLY AMEND THE RFP UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS CASE."

WE MUST CONCLUDE THAT GSA'S FAILURE TO ISSUE A FORMAL AMENDMENT TO THE RFP IN ACCORDANCE WITH FPR 1-3.805-1(D) WHEN IT DECIDED TO EXTEND THE PERIOD OF QUALIFICATION WAS, INDEED, IN CONTRAVENTION OF APPLICABLE REGULATIONS. HOWEVER, IT MUST BE NOTED THAT OPSCAN WAS ALSO GRANTED AN EXTENSION, ALBEIT FOR THE QUALIFICATION OF AN OPTIONAL FEATURE. ALTHOUGH THE EXTENSION GRANTED TO OPSCAN WAS OF A MUCH SHORTER DURATION THAN THAT GRANTED TO IBM AND ALLEGEDLY DID NOT PERTAIN TO A FEATURE REQUIRED BY THE RFP, AT LEAST OPSCAN HAD SOME INDICATION THAT A FURTHER EXTENSION MIGHT BE GRANTED BY GSA IF REQUESTED BY OPSCAN. IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT OPSCAN WAS IN FACT DEPRIVED OF AN OPPORTUNITY TO OFFER ITS NEW EQUIPMENT BECAUSE OF GSA'S FAILURE TO ISSUE A FORMAL AMENDMENT TO THE RFP EXTENDING THE QUALIFICATION DATE. ACCORDINGLY, WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THE ABOVE-NOTED DEFICIENCY WAS PREJUDICIAL TO THE EXTENT THAT THE LEGAL VALIDITY OF THE AWARD MAY BE QUESTIONED. FINALLY, YOU CONTEND THAT IBM WAS GIVEN AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE BECAUSE THE AWARD WAS MADE WITHOUT CONSIDERATION OF THE ARMY'S FUTURE WORKLOAD.

THE SUBJECT RFP PROVIDES AT PART V:

"VENDOR'S PROPOSALS WILL BE EVALUATED FIRST TO ASCERTAIN IF THEY SATISFY ALL STATED REQUIREMENTS. THOSE PROPOSALS THAT MEET ALL REQUIREMENTS WILL THEN BE EVALUATED ON THE BASIS OF A UNIFORM COSTING TECHNIQUE. THE PRIME OBJECTIVE OF THE ARMY IS TO INSURE THE SELECTION OF EQUIPMENT WHICH IS ADEQUATE TO PROCESS SATISFACTORILY THE WORKLOAD PRESENTED IN THE SPECIFICATIONS AND PROJECTED FUTURE WORKLOAD AT THE LOWEST COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. FOR EVALUATION PURPOSES, COSTS WILL BE COMPUTED ON THE BASIS OF 8 HOURS PER DAY, 22 DAYS PER MONTH."

YOU CONTEND THAT SINCE THE IBM EQUIPMENT CANNOT PERFORM THE PROJECTED FUTURE WORKLOAD OF THE ARMY, THEN AWARD MUST HAVE BEEN MADE WITHOUT CONSIDERATION OF THE STATED CRITERION IN REGARD TO FUTURE WORKLOAD. THEREFORE, THE AWARD WAS IMPROPERLY MADE.

THE AGENCY REPLIES AS FOLLOWS:

" *** THE RFP PROVIDED FOR EVALUATION OF COSTS COMPUTED ON THE BASIS OF 8 HOURS PER DAY, 22 DAYS PER MONTH. PARAGRAPH 2, PART III SPECIFIES EQUIPMENT CAPABLE OF PROCESSING CURRENT WORKLOADS IN NOT MORE THAN 6 HOURS A DAY. THIS ALLOWED A CAPABILITY TO EXPAND THROUGH-PUT AT LEAST 33 1/3 PERCENT TO ACCOMMODATE ONE SINGLE SHIFT OPERATION. HOWEVER, AS POINTED OUT IN THE PROTEST LETTER ITSELF, THE EQUIPMENT ACQUIRED CAN PROCESS CURRENT WORKLOAD IN JUST ONE-FIFTH OF A SINGLE SHIFT GIVING AN EXPANSION CAPABILITY OF 400 PERCENT. THE EXCESS CAPACITY OF THE OPSCAN MACHINE WOULD BE EVEN GREATER AND CLEARLY IN EXCESS OF NEEDS. USACSSEC ADVISES THAT THE ARMY HAS NO PRESENT PLANS FOR INTERFACING MASSDATA WITH OTHER THAN PERSONNEL SYSTEMS AND THAT THE IBM EQUIPMENT HAS MORE THAN ENOUGH EXPANSION CAPABILITY TO TAKE CARE OF PROJECTED FUTURE WORKLOAD OVER THE EQUIPMENT LIFE CYCLE. IT IS, OF COURSE, FOR THE ARMY TO DETERMINE HOW MUCH EXPANSION CAPABILITY IT REQUIRES AND IT CANNOT BE PLACED IN THE POSITION OF ALLOWING OPSCAN TO DICTATE AN EXPANSION CAPABILITY IN EXCESS OF WHAT IT CONSIDERS ITS NEED TO BE. *** "

WE BELIEVE GSA'S RESPONSE IS DISPOSITIVE OF THE ABOVE-MENTIONED ARGUMENT.

SINCE WE CAN FIND NO BASIS UPON WHICH TO QUESTION THE LEGAL SUFFICIENCY OF THE AWARD, YOUR PROTEST MUST BE DENIED.