B-173040, APR 20, 1972

B-173040: Apr 20, 1972

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PROTESTANT'S CONTENTIONS ARE CONSIDERED AS FOLLOWS: 1. THE PROCEEDINGS WERE NOT RENDERED INVALID BY THE DELAY INCIDENT TO THE AGENCY'S FAILURE TO INITIALLY CONDUCT NEGOTIATIONS WITH ALL OFFERORS. IT IS WELL SETTLED THAT ONCE DISCUSSIONS HAVE BEEN MADE WITH ONE OFFEROR. THE ALLEGED DISCLOSURE OF GOODYEAR'S BID PRICE TO ITS COMPETITORS IS TOTALLY UNSUPPORTED AND THERE EXISTS NO EVIDENCE TO INDICATE A VIOLATION OF THE STATUTORY PROHIBITION AGAINST THE USE OF AN "AUCTION TECHNIQUE.". WHERE THE TECHNICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PROPOSALS ARE INSIGNIFICANT. PRICE IS PROPERLY CONSIDERED THE CONTROLLING FACTOR. 50 COMP. IT DOES NOT APPEAR THAT THE USE OF LIFE-CYCLE COSTING WAS PREJUDICIAL AND ANY DOUBTS IN THIS REGARD WOULD MORE PROPERLY HAVE BEEN PRESENTED PRIOR TO CLOSING. 4.

B-173040, APR 20, 1972

BID PROTEST - PROPRIETY OF RE-NEGOTIATION - IMPROPER DISCLOSURE OF BID PRICE - UNREASONABLE DELAY - USE OF AUCTION TECHNIQUE - APPROPRIATENESS OF EVALUATION BY LIFE-CYCLE COSTING - INSUFFICIENT NOTICE OF PRIOR PROTEST - UNJUSTIFIABLE AMENDMENT DECISION DENYING THE PROTEST OF GOODYEAR AEROSPACE CORPORATION AGAINST AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO ANY OTHER FIRM UNDER AN RFP ISSUED BY THE NAVAL DEVICE TRAINING CENTER, ORLANDO, FLA., FOR THE PROCUREMENT OF AN OPTIONAL FLIGHT TRAINER. PROTESTANT'S CONTENTIONS ARE CONSIDERED AS FOLLOWS: 1. NOTWITHSTANDING THE PROVISIONS OF ASPR 3-804, THE PROCEEDINGS WERE NOT RENDERED INVALID BY THE DELAY INCIDENT TO THE AGENCY'S FAILURE TO INITIALLY CONDUCT NEGOTIATIONS WITH ALL OFFERORS, AND IT IS WELL SETTLED THAT ONCE DISCUSSIONS HAVE BEEN MADE WITH ONE OFFEROR, NEGOTIATIONS MUST BE CONDUCTED WITH ALL OFFERORS FOUND TO BE WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE. 50 COMP. GEN. 202 (1970). 2. THE ALLEGED DISCLOSURE OF GOODYEAR'S BID PRICE TO ITS COMPETITORS IS TOTALLY UNSUPPORTED AND THERE EXISTS NO EVIDENCE TO INDICATE A VIOLATION OF THE STATUTORY PROHIBITION AGAINST THE USE OF AN "AUCTION TECHNIQUE." ASPR 3-805(1)(B). 3. WHERE THE TECHNICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PROPOSALS ARE INSIGNIFICANT, PRICE IS PROPERLY CONSIDERED THE CONTROLLING FACTOR. 50 COMP. GEN. 246, 249 (1970). FURTHER, IT DOES NOT APPEAR THAT THE USE OF LIFE-CYCLE COSTING WAS PREJUDICIAL AND ANY DOUBTS IN THIS REGARD WOULD MORE PROPERLY HAVE BEEN PRESENTED PRIOR TO CLOSING. 4. THE REQUIREMENT OF NOTICE OF A PROTEST TO CERTAIN BIDDERS IN APPROPRIATE CASES IS NOT BINDING WHERE AWARD AT THE TIME OF THE PROTEST WAS CLEARLY NOT IMMINENT. 49 COMP. GEN. 459 (1970). 5. IN VIEW OF INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY THE AGENCY, THE COMP. GEN. IS UNABLE TO CONCLUDE THAT THERE WAS NO SUBSTANTIAL CHANGE AFFECTED BY THE AMENDMENT. FOR THE FOREGOING REASONS, THE PROTEST IS DENIED.

TO GOODYEAR AEROSPACE CORPORATION:

WE REFER TO A TELEGRAM DATED DECEMBER 23, 1971, FROM YOUR MARKETING MANAGER AND SUBSEQUENT CORRESPONDENCE FROM YOU PROTESTING AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO ANY OTHER FIRM UNDER REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP) NO. N61339-71-R-0072, ISSUED BY THE UNITED STATES NAVAL DEVICE TRAINING CENTER, ORLANDO, FLORIDA.

SINCE NO AWARD HAS BEEN MADE AND A NEGOTIATED PROCUREMENT IS INVOLVED, OUR OFFICE IS LIMITED IN ITS RECITATION OF THE FACTS BY SECTION 3-507.2 OF THE ARMED SERVICES PROCUREMENT REGULATION (ASPR).

THE SUBJECT RFP WAS ISSUED ON FEBRUARY 1, 1971, FOR THE PROCUREMENT OF ONE OPERATIONAL FLIGHT TRAINER WITH RELATED DATA, SERVICES AND EQUIPMENT. PROPOSALS WERE RECEIVED AND OPENED ON MARCH 29, 1971. THE PROPOSALS WERE EVALUATED AND NEGOTIATIONS CONDUCTED WITH YOUR FIRM.

ON APRIL 26, REFLECTIONE DIVISION, OTIS ELEVATOR COMPANY (REFLECTONE), SUBMITTED A MESSAGE TO THE CONTRACTING OFFICER INDICATING THAT THEY HAD ACHIEVED A TECHNICAL BREAKTHROUGH OF EXTREME IMPORTANCE AND COULD OFFER A PRICE REDUCTION BASED THEREON. BY LETTER DATED MAY 19, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER ADVISED REFLECTONE THAT THEIR LATE UNSOLICITED REVISED PROPOSAL WAS DETERMINED NOT TO COMPLY WITH THE CRITERIA SET FORTH IN ASPR 3- 506(C)(II) FOR TECHNICAL OR SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGH.

BY TELEGRAM DATED MAY 21 REFLECTONE PROTESTED THE ABOVE-CITED DETERMINATION TO THIS OFFICE. AS A RESULT OF THE PROTEST IT WAS DETERMINED BY THE ACTIVITY THAT THE PROCEDURES PRESCRIBED FOR THE CONDUCT OF NEGOTIATED PROCUREMENTS HAD NOT BEEN FOLLOWED IN THAT NEGOTIATIONS HAD NOT BEEN HELD WITH ALL OFFERORS WHO HAD SUBMITTED PROPOSALS WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE. ACCORDINGLY, REFLECTONE'S "LATE" PROPOSAL WAS CONSIDERED AS AN ALTERNATE PROPOSAL AND NEGOTIATIONS WERE REOPENED WITH ALL FIRMS WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE. THE REFLECTONE PROTEST WAS WITHDRAWN BY LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 2.

ON OCTOBER 10, AMENDMENT P00006 WAS ISSUED REQUIRING ALL OFFERORS TO INCLUDE THE COST OF AIRCRAFT PARTS AND DATA IN THE COST OF THE TRAINING DEVICE AND TO SUBMIT REVISED PROPOSALS BY NOVEMBER 17.

NEGOTIATIONS WERE THEN HELD WITH ALL OFFERORS DURING THE WEEK OF NOVEMBER 29. BEST AND FINAL OFFERS WERE CALLED FOR BY DECEMBER 10. YOUR FIRM PROTESTED BY TELEGRAM DATED DECEMBER 29. AS A RESULT THE AWARD HAS BEEN WITHHELD PENDING OUR RESOLUTION OF THE PROTEST.

YOUR PROTEST IS BASED ON THE FOLLOWING GENERAL CONTENTIONS: (1) THE AGENCY IMPROPERLY FAILED TO ACCEPT YOUR INITIAL OFFER AND UNNECESSARILY DELAYED NEGOTIATION FOR EIGHT AND ONE-HALF MONTHS, (2) CONTRARY TO REGULATIONS AGAINST THE USE OF AUCTION TECHNIQUE, YOUR PRICE WAS REVEALED TO COMPETING OFFERORS BY GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL, (3) THE AGENCY HAS IMPROPERLY CHANGED THE BASIS OF EVALUATION FROM TECHNICAL EXCELLENCE TO PRICE AND HAS UTILIZED LIFE-CYCLE-COSTING AS AN EVALUATION CRITERION WITHOUT ASSIGNING IT A WEIGHT FACTOR, (4) YOUR FIRM WAS NOT NOTIFIED NOR GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT ON THE REFLECTONE PROTEST AND (5) THERE WAS INSUFFICIENT JUSTIFICATION FOR ISSUING AMENDMENT P00006 TO THE RFP.

IN REGARD TO YOUR CONTENTION THAT PROCUREMENT PERSONNEL ACTED IMPROPERLY IN NOT AWARDING THE CONTRACT ON THE BASIS OF YOUR FIRM'S INITIAL OFFER, WE NOTE THAT 10 U.S.C. 2304(G) AND ITS IMPLEMENTING REGULATION, ASPR 3- 805.1(A)(V), PROVIDE FOR AWARD ON AN INITIAL PROPOSAL BASIS ONLY WHERE IT CAN BE CLEARLY DEMONSTRATED THROUGH ADEQUATE COMPETITION OR ACCURATE PRIOR COST EXPERIENCE THAT SUCH ACTION WOULD RESULT IN FAIR AND REASONABLE PRICES AND THE RFP NOTIFIES ALL OFFERORS OF THE POSSIBILITY THAT AWARD MAY BE MADE WITHOUT DISCUSSION. IN THE INSTANT CASE THE CONTRACTING OFFICER FELT IT NECESSARY TO SUBMIT TO YOUR FIRM A LIST OF TECHNICAL QUESTIONS. THESE WERE ANSWERED AND YOUR COST PROPOSAL WAS REVISED ACCORDINGLY. ALTHOUGH THE MOST FAVORABLE PROPOSAL COULD HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED WITHOUT DISCUSSION, ONCE DISCUSSIONS HAVE BEEN INITIATED WITH ONE OFFEROR THEY MUST BE CONDUCTED WITH ALL OFFERORS FOUND TO BE WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE. SEE 50 COMP. GEN. 202 (1970). AS INDICATED IN THE RECITATION OF THE FACTS, OTHER FIRMS WERE LATER DETERMINED TO HAVE BEEN WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE AT THE TIME YOUR INITIAL PROPOSAL WAS SUBMITTED. ACCORDINGLY, THE AGENCY ACTED PROPERLY IN REFUSING TO AWARD THE CONTRACT ON AN INITIAL PROPOSAL BASIS.

NEXT YOU ASSERT THAT ASPR 3-804 WAS VIOLATED BY THE AGENCY'S DELAY IN CONDUCTING NEGOTIATIONS FOR MORE THAN EIGHT AND ONE-HALF MONTHS AFTER INITIAL PROPOSALS WERE SUBMITTED. IT IS THE AGENCY'S POSITION THAT THERE WAS NO UNDUE DELAY INCIDENT TO THE SUBJECT PROCUREMENT; AND THAT SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF TIME NECESSARILY WERE CONSUMED BY THE EVALUATION OF VOLUMINOUS TECHNICAL PROPOSALS, RESOLUTION OF A PROTEST, EVALUATION OF REVISED AND ALTERNATE TECHNICAL PROPOSALS, AND CONDUCT OF AUDITS AND NEGOTIATIONS. IN ADDITION, SINCE IT WAS DETERMINED THAT NEGOTIATIONS WERE NOT HELD WITH ALL OFFERORS WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE DURING THE INITIAL STAGE OF THE PROCUREMENT, DISCUSSIONS HAD TO BE INITIATED WITH ALL QUALIFYING OFFERORS. WE RECOGNIZE THAT AT LEAST A PORTION OF THE DELAY WAS DUE TO AN ADMITTED DEFICIENCY IN THE INITIAL NEGOTIATION PROCEDURES, FAILURE TO HOLD DISCUSSIONS WITH ALL QUALIFIED OFFERORS. HOWEVER, NOTWITHSTANDING THE REQUIREMENT OF ASPR 3-804 THAT NEGOTIATIONS BE CONDUCTED IN THE MOST EXPEDITIOUS MANNER POSSIBLE, WE CANNOT CONCLUDE THAT DELAY INCIDENT TO THE CORRECTION OF THE DEFICIENCY RENDERED THE PROCEEDINGS INVALID.

NEXT YOU ALLEGE THAT YOUR PRICES WERE MADE KNOWN TO OTHER OFFERORS BY GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL THEREBY CONSTITUTING USE OF THE PROHIBITED AUCTION TECHNIQUE. THE AGENCY REPLY IS AS FOLLOWS:

"(2) THE SECOND PORTION OF THIS ALLEGATION IS IMPROPER DISCLOSURE OF GAC (GOODYEAR AEROSPACE CORPORATION) PROPOSAL INFORMATION BY GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL. THE MEMBERS OF THE PROJECT TEAM HAVE BEEN INTERROGATED AND ON THE BASIS OF THE BEST INFORMATION AVAILABLE, IT CANNOT BE SUBSTANTIATED. IN THE ABSENCE OF ADDITIONAL SPECIFIC INFORMATION, WE CAN SEE NO FURTHER ACTION TO BE TAKEN. IT IS BOTH POSSIBLE AND PROBABLE THAT GAC'S COMPETITORS COULD HAVE LEARNED OF THE GAC PRICE FROM OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT SOURCES.

"(3) THERE ARE TWO ALLEGATIONS MADE BY GAC WHICH IT IS CONSIDERED NECESSARY TO SPECIFICALLY REFUTE. ALLEGATION NO. 11 ON PAGE 4 STATES THAT 'GAC REPRESENTATIVES ATTENDED TECHNICAL CLARIFICATION MEETING AT NTDC ON 23 APRIL 1971, AND WERE ADVISED THAT GAC WAS THE ONLY OFFEROR IN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE.' THE MEMBERS OF THE PROJECT TEAM HAVE BEEN QUERIED ON THIS ALLEGATION AND ALL CATEGORICALLY DENY MAKING SUCH A STATEMENT TO ANY GAC REPRESENTATIVE. IN ADDITION, THEY STATE THAT ANY CONVERSATION THEY HAD WITH GAC REPRESENTATIVES SHOULD NOT HAVE GIVEN THIS IMPLICATION. THE TEAM MEMBERS HAVE ALSO BEEN QUERIED REGARDING THE ALLEGATION OF GAC IN NO. 13 ON PAGE 4 THAT 'GAC WAS LED TO BELIEVE THAT ITS OFFER WAS SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER THAN THE NEXT LOWEST BID, AND WAS RATED HIGH TECHNICALLY.' SIMILARLY THEY DENY STATEMENTS THAT INDIVIDUALLY COULD REASONABLY HAVE BEEN INTERPRETED IN THIS WAY."

IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY CONCRETE EVIDENCE TO CONTROVERT THE ABOVE RECITAL, WE CANNOT FIND THAT GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL IMPROPERLY DISCLOSED YOUR FIRM'S PRICES. SIMILARLY, A THOROUGH REVIEW OF THE RECORD REVEALS NO SPECIFIC INCIDENT WHERE AN OFFEROR WAS INFORMED THAT A GIVEN PRICE HAD TO BE MET OR HOW HIS PRICE STOOD IN RELATION TO OTHERS. WE CONCLUDE, THEREFORE, THAT THIS PROCUREMENT WAS NOT CONDUCTED IN A MANNER VIOLATIVE OF THE PROHIBITION AGAINST THE "AUCTION-TECHNIQUE" AS SET FORTH IN ASPR 3- 805(1)(B).

YOU FURTHER CONTEND THAT PRICE HAS IMPROPERLY BECOME THE MOST IMPORTANT BASIS FOR AWARD WHILE THE RFP IMPLIES THAT TECHNICAL FACTORS WERE TO BE MOST IMPORTANT. WE NOTE THAT THE RFP STATES AT SECTION D, OF PARAGRAPH 1 "EVALUATION AND AWARD FACTORS" THAT "AWARD WILL BE BASED ON PRICE AND OTHER FACTORS *** ." IN SITUATIONS SUCH AS THE INSTANT CASE WHERE ALL OFFERORS ARE RATED TECHNICALLY ACCEPTABLE AND THE RELATIVE TECHNICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PROPOSALS MEETING THE GOVERNMENT'S NEEDS ARE NOT CONSIDERED SIGNIFICANT, WE BELIEVE IT IS PROPER THAT PRICE BE CONSIDERED THE CONTROLLING FACTOR. SEE 50 COMP. GEN. 246, 249 (1970). SINCE PRICE WAS CLEARLY INDICATED IN THE RFP AS A FACTOR IN THE EVALUATION WE CANNOT SAY THAT THE SUBJECT RFP LACKED INFORMATION NECESSARY TO ENABLE ALL OFFERORS TO PREPARE THEIR PROPOSALS PROPERLY. SEE ASPR 3-501(B).

YOU FURTHER ATTACK THE PROPRIETY OF THE EVALUATION CRITERIA UTILIZED IN THE SUBJECT RFP BASED ON THE FACT THAT NO RELATIVE WEIGHT WAS ASSIGNED TO LIFE-CYCLE-COSTING. YOU ALSO ALLEGE THAT ANY LIFE-CYCLE COSTING BENEFITS DUE TO COMMONALITY IN THE REFLECTONE PROPOSAL SHOULD BE CONSIDERED IN THE CONTEXT OF THE FACT THAT "THE A-7E WST FLIGHT PORTION BUILT BY MELPAR, INCORPORATED, HAS NOT BEEN CONSIDERED USEFUL BY THE NAVAL TRAINING BOARD."

PARAGRAPH 3 OF SECTION D OF THE SUBJECT RFP PROVIDES THAT "THE PROPOSALS WILL BE EVALUATED ON THE BASIS OF TOTAL COST TO THE GOVERNMENT, INCLUDING THEREIN THE LIFE-CYCLE SUPPORT OVER A TEN YEAR OPERATIONAL USE PERIOD." THIS OFFICE HAS, IN ADVERTISED PROCUREMENTS, APPROVED THE USE OF SUCH METHODS OF COST ANALYSIS PROVIDED THAT THE CRITERIA UTILIZED CAN BE QUANTIFIED WITH REASONABLE CERTAINTY BEFORE THEY ARE USED AND THE OFFERORS ARE NOTIFIED IN THE SOLICITATION THAT SUCH AN ANALYSIS WILL BE MADE. SEE B-173444, DECEMBER 21, 1971, AND CASES CITED THEREIN. WE SEE NO REASON TO QUESTION THE USE OF SUCH AN ANALYSIS IN THIS NEGOTIATED PROCUREMENT. IS TRUE THAT THIS FACTOR WAS NOT INCLUDED IN THE WEIGHTED LIST OF TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS INCLUDED WITHIN THE RFP PACKAGE. HOWEVER, THE RECORD INDICATES THAT THIS FACTOR WAS UNIFORMLY APPLIED. FURTHER, IT DID NOT AFFECT THE RELATIVE STANDING OF THE OFFERORS. THEREFORE, WE CANNOT SAY THAT THE OMISSION WAS PREJUDICIAL TO ANY OFFEROR. ANY DOUBT YOU MAY HAVE AS TO THE RELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF THE EVALUATION CRITERIA SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISCUSSED AND RESOLVED BEFORE THE CLOSING DATE FOR THE RECEIPT OF PROPOSALS.

IT DOES NOT APPEAR THAT YOUR CONTENTION IN REGARD TO THE "A-7E WST FLIGHT PROTION" CAN BE SUBSTANTIATED SINCE WE ARE INFORMED THAT THESE UNITS HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED BY THE NAVY.

YOU URGE THAT AN IMPROPRIETY EXISTS DUE TO THE FAILURE OF THE AGENCY TO NOTIFY YOUR FIRM OF THE REFLECTONE PROTEST. ASPR 2-407.8 PROVIDES THAT, IN APPROPRIATE CASES, NOTICE OF A PROTEST WILL BE GIVEN TO BIDDERS AFFECTED THEREBY. WE NOTE THAT THIS SECTION DOES NOT SPECIFY THAT A BIDDER AFFECTED BY A PROTEST IS TO BE NOTIFIED IN EVERY CASE, BUT SPEAKS ONLY OF "APPROPRIATE CASES" AND STATES AN EXAMPLE THAT CONTEMPLATES SITUATIONS WHERE THE AWARD MIGHT NOT BE CONSUMMATED WITHIN AN ACCEPTANCE PERIOD PROVIDED BY THE OFFEROR. IN VIEW OF THE LACK OF A SPECIFIC COMMAND IN THIS REGARD BY ASPR, WE CANNOT SAY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER VIOLATED ANY REGULATION IN THE PRESENT SITUATION WHERE THE PROTEST WAS NOT AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT AND AWARD AT THAT TIME WAS CLEARLY NOT IMMINENT. SEE 49 COMP. GEN. 459 (1970) WHICH DEALS WITH THE IDENTICAL FEDERAL PROCUREMENT REGULATIONS (FPR).

FINALLY, YOU ALLEGE THAT SINCE THERE WAS NO SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE MADE TO THE RFP BY AMENDMENT P00006, THAT AMENDMENT WAS ISSUED IN VIOLATION OF ASPR 3-805.1(E). MORE SPECIFICALLY, YOU URGE THAT THE ISSUANCE OF THE ABOVE-CITED AMENDMENT WAS MERELY A SHAM TO ENABLE THE AGENCY TO OBTAIN LOWER PRICES. IN RESPONSE THE AGENCY INFORMS US AS FOLLOWS:

"(1) IN THE FABRICATION OF AIRCRAFT TRAINING DEVICES THERE ARE BASICALLY TWO TYPES OF COMPONENTS OR PARTS. THOSE FABRICATED BY THE TRAINING DEVICE CONTRACTORS AND THOSE HE PURCHASES FROM THE AIRFRAME MANUFACTURER OR HIS SUBCONTRACTOR. THESE ARE USUALLY DESIGNATED AS 'AIRCRAFT PARTS.' IT IS ALSO NECESSARY FOR A TRAINING DEVICE CONTRACTOR TO ACQUIRE LARGE AMOUNTS OF DATA CONCERNING AIRCRAFT DESIGN, PERFORMANCE, ETC. THIS IS GENERALLY REFERRED TO AS 'AIRCRAFT DATA.' RFP N61339-71-R-0072, CONTAINED ITEM 0017 AIRCRAFT DATA AND ITEM 0018 AIRCRAFT PARTS. THE OFFERORS WERE REQUESTED TO INCLUDE A BUDGETARY ESTIMATE FOR THESE ITEMS IN THEIR PROPOSAL. THE GOVERNMENT WOULD, IN TURN, PROVIDE FUNDING UP TO THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF THE ESTIMATE. SEE SECTION J, PAGE 9 OF THE RFP FOR FURTHER DETAILS. THE RFP CONTAINED NO REQUIREMENT FOR INCLUSION OF THESE ESTIMATED AMOUNTS IN THE GOVERNMENT'S EVALUATION OF PRICE. SEE SOLICITATION INSTRUCTIONS AND CONDITIONS NO. 25(B)(1).

"(2) A SIGNIFICANT DISPARITY EXISTED BETWEEN THE ESTIMATES OF THE *** OFFERORS FOR ITEMS 0017 AND 0018. ONE OFFEROR HAD ESTIMATED ZERO DOLLARS FOR ITEM 0017 AIRCRAFT DATA, WHILE *** FOR EXAMPLE, ESTIMATED THAT ITEM AT $246,932. THE STRUCTURE OF ITEMS 0017 AND 0018 COULD PERMIT A SUCCESSFUL OFFEROR TO SUBMIT A LOW ESTIMATE AND AFTER AWARD OF THE CONTRACT REQUEST AN INCREASE IN FUNDING TO ASSURE PERFORMANCE THEREBY EFFECTIVELY 'BUYING- IN.' IN ORDER TO PROVIDE A FAIR AND EQUAL BASIS FOR THE OFFERORS AND STIMULATE THEM TO SUBMIT MORE REALISTIC ESTIMATES, P00006 WAS ISSUED REQUIRING THE CONTRACTORS TO INCLUDE AIRCRAFT PARTS AND DATA WITHIN THE INCENTIVE FORMULA AS PART OF THE DEVICE. IT SHOULD ALSO BE NOTED THAT SEVERAL MONTHS HAD PASSED SINCE PROPOSAL PREPARATION AND IT WAS CONSIDERED PROBABLE THAT THE PRICES QUOTED BY THE AIRCRAFT MANUFACTURER TO THE OFFERORS FOR THESE ITEMS MIGHT HAVE CHANGED *** ." IN VIEW OF THE ABOVE WE CANNOT AGREE WITH YOUR CONCLUSION THAT AMENDMENT P00006 MADE NO SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE TO THE SUBJECT RFP.

ACCORDINGLY, YOUR PROTEST MUST BE DENIED.