B-174589(1), MAR 28, 1972

B-174589(1): Mar 28, 1972

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IS PRIMARILY A MATTER OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION WHICH WILL ONLY BE DISTURBED UPON A SHOWING OF AGENCY ABUSE. 48 COMP. THE SUBJECT PROTEST MUST BE DENIED SINCE THERE EXISTS NO BASIS FOR CONCLUDING THAT THE EVALUATION WAS ARBITRARY OR WITHOUT A REASONABLE BASIS. TO ENVIROTRONICS: FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR PROTEST AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO FRANKLIN INSTITUTE RESEARCH LABORATORIES BY THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY PURSUANT TO REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS NO. THE SUBJECT RFP WAS ISSUED ON JULY 28. EIGHT PROPOSALS WERE RECEIVED BY THE CLOSING DATE OF AUGUST 26. AFTER TECHNICAL EVALUATION OF THE PROPOSALS THEY WERE RANKED AS FOLLOWS: TECHNICAL RATING AMOUNT FRANKLIN INSTITUTE 95 $119.

B-174589(1), MAR 28, 1972

BID PROTEST - NEGOTIATED PROCUREMENT - DETERMINATION OF COMPETITIVE RANGE DECISION DENYING THE PROTEST OF ENVIROTRONICS AGAINST AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO FRANKLIN INSTITUTE RESEARCH LABORATORIES UNDER AN RFP ISSUED BY THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY. ALTHOUGH THE PROVISIONS OF FPR 1-3.805.1(A) REQUIRE THAT DISCUSSIONS BE HELD WITH ALL COMPETITIVE OFFERORS IN A NEGOTIATED PROCUREMENT, A DETERMINATION OF COMPETITIVE RANGE, PARTICULARLY AS REGARDS TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS, IS PRIMARILY A MATTER OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION WHICH WILL ONLY BE DISTURBED UPON A SHOWING OF AGENCY ABUSE. 48 COMP. GEN. 314, 317 (1968). ACCORDINGLY, THE SUBJECT PROTEST MUST BE DENIED SINCE THERE EXISTS NO BASIS FOR CONCLUDING THAT THE EVALUATION WAS ARBITRARY OR WITHOUT A REASONABLE BASIS.

TO ENVIROTRONICS:

FURTHER REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR PROTEST AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO FRANKLIN INSTITUTE RESEARCH LABORATORIES BY THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY PURSUANT TO REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS NO. CI 72-0003.

THE SUBJECT RFP WAS ISSUED ON JULY 28, 1971, FOR RESEARCH IN SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE AND OTHER SPECIFIED SERVICES IN CONNECTION WITH THE OFFSET PRINTING OF ABSTRACTS OF PUBLISHED PAPERS CONCERNING HEALTH ASPECTS OF PESTICIDES TO BE USED IN THE PUBLICATION OF MONTHLY ISSUES OF THE "HEALTH ASPECTS OF PESTICIDES ABSTRACT BULLETIN." EIGHT PROPOSALS WERE RECEIVED BY THE CLOSING DATE OF AUGUST 26, 1971. AFTER TECHNICAL EVALUATION OF THE PROPOSALS THEY WERE RANKED AS FOLLOWS:

TECHNICAL RATING AMOUNT

FRANKLIN INSTITUTE 95 $119,194

BIONETICS RESEARCH LABS 85 105,000

HERNER INFORMATION SERVICE 76 89,605

SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE CORPORATION 68 108,000

ENVIROTRONICS 62 88,132

GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY 62 69,489

ALLEN ASSOCIATES 47 51,564

THE LEARNING CENTER 43 84,706

NEGOTIATIONS WERE CONDUCTED WITH FRANKLIN INSTITUTE AND BIONETICS AS THE ONLY OFFERORS DETERMINED TO BE WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE, PRICE AND OTHER FACTORS CONSIDERED. AS A RESULT OF THE NEGOTIATIONS, FRANKLIN INSTITUTE'S PRICE WAS REDUCED TO A FIXED PRICE OF $114,199, AND BIONETICS' PRICE WAS INCREASED TO $119,250. THEREFORE, AWARD WAS MADE TO FRANKLIN INSTITUTE ON NOVEMBER 1, 1971.

YOU CONTEND THAT YOUR LOWER OFFER OF $88,132.26 SHOULD HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED AS YOU WERE RESPONSIVE TO THE RFP, OFFERED CERTAIN ADVANTAGES IN TECHNIQUES OVER THE PREVIOUS CONTRACTOR, AND ALL OF YOUR PERSONNEL TO BE ASSIGNED TO THE CONTRACT HAVE ADVANCED DEGREES IN THEIR RESPECTIVE FIELDS. ALSO, YOU QUESTION THE PROCURING AGENCY'S ASSESSMENT OF YOUR TECHNICAL CAPABILITIES TO FULFILL THE CONTRACT. FURTHER, YOU POINT OUT THAT YOUR FIRM SUBMITTED A CERTIFICATE OF ELIGIBILITY FOR PREFERENCE UNDER DEFENSE MANPOWER POLICY NO. DMP-4. FINALLY, YOU OBJECT TO AN AWARD TO A "NON-PROFIT" CONCERN FOR $26,000 MORE THAN YOUR OFFER.

THE NEGOTIATION OF THIS PROCUREMENT WAS SUBJECT TO FEDERAL PROCUREMENT REGULATIONS (FPR) 1-3.805.1(A) REQUIRING WRITTEN OR ORAL DISCUSSIONS WITH ALL RESPONSIBLE OFFERORS WHO SUBMIT PROPOSALS WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE, PRICE AND OTHER FACTORS CONSIDERED. IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT "OTHER FACTORS" INCLUDES THE TECHNICAL ACCEPTABILITY OF PROPOSALS. SEE 46 COMP. GEN. 606 (1967). WE HAVE ALSO HELD THAT THE DETERMINATION OF COMPETITIVE RANGE, PARTICULARLY AS REGARDS TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS, IS PRIMARILY A MATTER OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION WHICH WILL NOT BE DISTURBED BY OUR OFFICE IN THE ABSENCE OF A CLEAR SHOWING THAT SUCH DETERMINATION REPRESENTED AN ARBITRARY ABUSE OF DISCRETION. SEE 48 COMP. GEN. 314, 317 (1968).

IN THE INSTANT CASE, THE PROCURING ACTIVITY EMPLOYED A RATING SYSTEM TO DETERMINE COMPETITIVE RANGE. CRITERIA, MAXIMUM POSSIBLE SCORES AND THE SCORING OF YOUR PROPOSAL WERE AS FOLLOWS:

MAXIMUM POINTS

CRITERIA POSSIBLE RATING

UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROBLEM 25 15

METHOD OF APPROACH 15 10

COMPLETENESS AND NOVELTY OF IDEAS 5 4

ADEQUACY OF REQUIRED FACILITIES 15 12

QUALITY OF PROPOSED PERSONNEL20 16

RATED EXPERIENCE 20 5

100 62

IN EXPLAINING ITS EVALUATION OF YOUR PROPOSAL THE AGENCY STATES THE FOLLOWING:

" *** AS STATED IN OUR MEMORANDUM OF SEPTEMBER 22, 1971, THEIR PROPOSAL, FOR THE MOST PART, CONSTITUTED AN ECHO OF OUR OWN WORK SCOPE. THERE WAS A LACK OF DEFINITIVE INFORMATION ON A PROGRAM FOR EXECUTING THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE WORK SCOPE AND ACCOMPLISHING THE OBJECTIVES OF WORLD-WIDE COVERAGE OF THE LITERATURE. IN OUR OPINION, THE INFORMATION THAT WAS FURNISHED ON OPERATIONAL PROCEDURES WAS SUPERFICIAL AND GAVE NO INDICATION OF ANY INDEPTH INVESTIGATION OR PLANNING.

"THIS COMPANY HAS BEEN IN EXISTENCE SINCE MARCH 1970, AND AT THE TIME OF THIS BID, THEY WERE JUST OVER A YEAR OLD. BECAUSE OF THIS FACT, THEY COULD NOT, AS THEY STATED, SPECIFY ANY ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN THIS FIELD. THE DESIGNATED PROJECT OFFICER DID NOT HAVE GRADUATE TRAINING, OR THE EQUIVALENT, IN LIBRARY OR INFORMATION SCIENCE AS SPECIFIED IN THE CONTRACT. NOWHERE IN THEIR PROPOSAL WAS THERE ANY EVIDENCE THAT ANY OF THEIR STAFF MEMBERS HAD EVER WORKED ON A PROJECT OF THIS SPECIFIC NATURE. WE AGREE THAT THEY APPEAR TO HAVE ASSEMBLED A STAFF OF COMPETENT SCIENTISTS WHO WOULD BE AN ASSET ON A PROJECT SUCH AS THE ABSTRACT BULLETIN, AND WE RATED THEM ACCORDINGLY ON THIS ASPECT. WE BELIEVE ALSO, HOWEVER, THAT THESE QUALIFICATIONS ALONE ARE INADEQUATE FOR MEETING THE REQUIREMENTS OF THIS PROJECT AND ANY EXPERIENCE, ON THE PART OF THE COMPANY OR THE INDIVIDUALS CONCERNED, IN PUBLISHING ANY PERIODICALS OF THIS NATURE IS COMPLETELY LACKING.

"THE PROPOSAL STATED THAT THEY HAVE COMPETENCE IN FRENCH, SPANISH, GERMAN, CHINESE, RUSSIAN, AND DUTCH BUT PROVIDED NO INFORMATION ON HOW THEY WOULD HANDLE OTHER LANGUAGES, E.G., JAPANESE, ITALIAN, NORWEGIAN, SWEDISH, AND DANISH.

"THEY STATED THAT THEY PLANNED TO USE A COMPUTERIZED PHOTOSETTING SYSTEM FOR PRINTING THE PUBLICATION, AND AGAIN WE RATED THEM HIGH IN NOVELTY OF IDEAS. THE PREVIOUS CONTRACTOR WAS USING AN IBM COMPOSER FOR PREPARING THE BULLETIN; HOWEVER, EXCEPT IN THE INITIAL STAGES OF THE ORIGINAL CONTRACT, THEY USED A TECHNIQUE THAT DID NOT REQUIRE PASTE UP PAGE LAYOUTS AS STATED BY ENVIROTRONICS. FOR A NEW CONTRACTOR, THE PASTE-UP METHOD DOES PROVIDE SOME NEEDED FLEXIBILITY, PARTICULARLY WITH RESPECT TO CHRONOLOGY, IN PREPARATION OF THEIR FIRST ISSUES. FURTHER, IN THE OPINION OF THE HEAD OF OUR DATA MANAGEMENT SECTION, THE OCR SCANNING EQUIPMENT HAS NOT BEEN DEVELOPED TO THE POINT OF SUFFICIENT ACCURACY, AND HE QUESTIONED THE ABILITY OF THIS EQUIPMENT TO READ SUPERSCRIPTS, SUBSCRIPTS, AND OTHER SYMBOLS. ALSO IN HIS OPINION ENVIROTRONICS HAS UNDERESTIMATED THE EFFORT REQUIRED TO PROGRAM FOR EXTRACTION OF THE QUARTERLY SUBJECT AND AUTHOR INDEXES."

IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, WE SEE NO BASIS FOR CONCLUDING THAT THE EVALUATION WAS ARBITRARY OR WITHOUT A REASONABLE BASIS. SINCE THIS PROCUREMENT WAS NOT A SET-ASIDE FOR LABOR SURPLUS AREA CONCERNS, YOUR CERTIFIED ELIGIBILITY DID NOT ENTITLE YOU TO ANY PREFERENCE IN THE NEGOTIATIONS. FINALLY, FRANKLIN INSTITUTE'S STATUS AS A NON-PROFIT CONCERN IS NOT A FACTOR AFFECTING THE AWARD.

ACCORDINGLY, YOUR PROTEST IS DENIED.