B-174536(1), APR 11, 1972

B-174536(1): Apr 11, 1972

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ALTHOUGH THE AWARD WAS OBVIOUSLY IMPROPER AND. THE INSTANT PROTEST IS SUSTAINED. SINCE THE LIFE RAFTS HAVE ALREADY BEEN DELIVERED AND INSTALLED. IS UNABLE TO RECOMMEND ACCEPTANCE OF SWITLIK'S LOW BID. INC.: THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 12. BIDS WERE OPENED ON AUGUST 25. 840 WAS LOW. A CONTRACT WAS AWARDED TO RFI ON SEPTEMBER 20. BIDDERS WERE REQUIRED TO INSERT THE ITEM NAME. IT APPEARS THAT THIS INFORMATION WAS REQUIRED TO ENABLE THE NAVY TO ASCERTAIN WHETHER BIDDERS HAD OBTAINED USCG APPROVAL FOR ITS PRODUCT PRIOR TO BID OPENING. INCLUDING DIMENSIONS WHICH WERE DESCRIPTIVE OF AN OVAL SHAPED RAFT. IT IS YOUR POSITION THAT RFI WAS NOT A RESPONSIVE BIDDER SINCE IT WAS BIDDING ON A CIRCULAR SHAPED RAFT.

B-174536(1), APR 11, 1972

BID PROTEST - ALLEGED NONRESPONSIVENESS - CONFORMANCE TO SPECIFICATIONS DECISION SUSTAINING THE PROTEST OF SWITLIK PARACHUTE CO., INC., AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO RUBBER FABRICATORS, INC. (RFI), UNDER AN IFB ISSUED BY THE NAVAL REGIONAL PROCUREMENT OFFICE, OAKLAND, CALIF., FOR A PROCUREMENT OF INFLATABLE LIFE RAFTS. BASED ON NOTICE OF COAST GUARD APPROVAL AND THE RESULTS OF A PRE AWARD SURVEY CONDUCTED BY THE DEFENSE CONTRACT ADMINISTRATION SERVICES, PITTSBURGH, PA., THE CONTRACTING OFFICER ERRONEOUSLY ASSUMED THAT RFI'S PROPOSAL CONFORMED TO THE DIMENSIONAL SPECIFICATIONS OF THE SUBJECT IFB. ALTHOUGH THE AWARD WAS OBVIOUSLY IMPROPER AND, THEREFORE, THE INSTANT PROTEST IS SUSTAINED, SINCE THE LIFE RAFTS HAVE ALREADY BEEN DELIVERED AND INSTALLED, THE COMP. GEN. IS UNABLE TO RECOMMEND ACCEPTANCE OF SWITLIK'S LOW BID.

TO SWITLIK PARACHUTE CO., INC.:

THIS IS IN REPLY TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 12, 1971, AND ENCLOSURES, PROTESTING THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO RUBBER FABRICATORS, INC. (RFI), UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS N66314-72-B-3063, ISSUED BY THE NAVAL REGIONAL PROCUREMENT OFFICE, OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA.

THE INVITATION REQUESTED BIDS FOR 12 INFLATABLE LIFE RAFTS (25 PERSON CAPACITY). BIDS WERE OPENED ON AUGUST 25, 1971, AND RFI'S BID OF $21,840 WAS LOW. A CONTRACT WAS AWARDED TO RFI ON SEPTEMBER 20, 1971.

THE INVITATION, IN PART, REQUIRED BIDDERS TO OFFER A SPECIFIC PRODUCT WHICH HAD PRIOR APPROVAL BY THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD (USCG). UNDER A SECTION OF THE INVITATION PERTAINING TO THE REQUIREMENT FOR USCG APPROVAL, BIDDERS WERE REQUIRED TO INSERT THE ITEM NAME, MODEL NUMBER, AND USCG APPROVAL NUMBER. IT APPEARS THAT THIS INFORMATION WAS REQUIRED TO ENABLE THE NAVY TO ASCERTAIN WHETHER BIDDERS HAD OBTAINED USCG APPROVAL FOR ITS PRODUCT PRIOR TO BID OPENING. THE NAVY ALSO SPECIFIED ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS IN THE INVITATION, INCLUDING DIMENSIONS WHICH WERE DESCRIPTIVE OF AN OVAL SHAPED RAFT.

ESSENTIALLY, IT IS YOUR POSITION THAT RFI WAS NOT A RESPONSIVE BIDDER SINCE IT WAS BIDDING ON A CIRCULAR SHAPED RAFT, RATHER THAN ONE WITH THE OVAL DIMENSIONS REQUIRED BY THE NAVY'S SPECIFICATIONS. YOU FIRST APPRISED THE CONTRACTING OFFICER THAT RFI WAS NOT RESPONSIVE TO THE DIMENSIONAL SPECIFICATIONS BY TELEGRAM OF AUGUST 25, 1971.

IN THIS CONNECTION, THE NAVY HAS REPORTED THAT PRIOR TO CONTRACT AWARD THE MARINE INSPECTION OFFICE, USCG, WAS CONTACTED TO DETERMINE WHETHER RFI HAD USCG APPROVAL FOR THE MODEL LISTED IN ITS BID. THE USCG ADVISED THAT RFI WAS AFFILIATED WITH RFD, INC., AND THAT THE LATTER FIRM'S USCG APPROVAL NUMBER, WHICH WAS LISTED IN RFI'S BID, APPLIED EQUALLY TO RFI. THIS INFORMATION WAS LATER VERFIED BY TELEGRAM. ADDITIONALLY, THE PRE- AWARD SURVEY REQUESTED FROM THE DEFENSE CONTRACT ADMINISTRATION SERVICES, PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, REPORTED ON SEPTEMBER 8, 1971, THAT "THE IFB IS ACTUALLY RUBBER FABRICATORS, INC. (RFI) COMMERCIAL ITEM ... " APPARENTLY, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER CONSTRUED THIS TO MEAN THAT RFI'S RAFT CONFORMED TO THE SPECIFICATIONS. THE NAVY REPORTS THAT FOR THESE REASONS IT APPEARED THAT YOUR PRE-AWARD PROTEST TO THE NAVY WAS NOT JUSTIFIED, AND A CONTRACT WAS THEREFORE AWARDED TO RFI ON SEPTEMBER 20, 1971.

WHILE YOU WERE APPARENTLY AWARE THAT THE MODEL NUMBER SPECIFIED IN RFI'S BID DID NOT MEET THE SPECIFICATIONS, WE NOTE THAT THE COMPANY'S BID CONTAINED NO DESCRIPTIVE INFORMATION OR DATA WHICH WOULD HAVE APPRISED THE CONTRACTING OFFICER THAT RFI'S USCG APPROVED ITEM WOULD NOT MEET THE DIMENSIONAL SPECIFICATIONS. ALSO, THE NAVY'S REPORT STATES THAT IT WAS SUBSEQUENT TO CONTRACT AWARD, ACCEPTANCE, AND DELIVERY OF THE LIFE RAFTS THAT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER BECAME AWARE THAT THE ITEMS SUPPLIED BY RFI DID NOT IN FACT MEET THE SPECIFIED DIMENSIONS. MOREOVER, WE ARE ADVISED THAT THE ACTIVITY WHICH REQUISITIONED THE ITEMS, THE MILITARY SEALIFT COMMAND, PACIFIC, HAS RETAINED THE DELIVERED RAFTS, NOTWITHSTANDING THEIR PATENT DEFECTS, SINCE THEY WERE URGENTLY REQUIRED. IT IS REPORTED THAT THE RAFTS HAVE SINCE BEEN INSTALLED ABOARD SHIP.

WHILE IT APPEARS THAT THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO RFI OBVIOUSLY WAS ERRONEOUS, AND YOUR PROTEST AGAINST THE AWARD IS THEREFORE SUSTAINED, SINCE THE LIFE RAFTS HAVE BEEN DELIVERED AND INSTALLED WE ARE UNABLE TO RECOMMEND ACCEPTANCE OF YOUR LOW BID.

ENCLOSED, FOR YOUR INFORMATION, IS A COPY OF OUR LETTER OF TODAY TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY RECOMMENDING APPROPRIATE ACTION TO PRECLUDE A REPETITION OF THE ERRORS WHICH OCCURRED IN THIS CASE.