B-174737, APR 12, 1972

B-174737: Apr 12, 1972

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PROTESTANT'S CONTENTIONS ARE ANSWERED AS FOLLOWS: 1. A DETERMINATION AS TO THE MOST APPROPRIATE METHOD OF PROCUREMENT IS PRIMARILY WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF THE PROCURING ACTIVITY AND SUCH DETERMINATION WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED BY GAO WHEN IT IS SUPPORTED BY FACTS SUCH AS THE AIR FORCE EXPLANATION WITH WHICH CUBIC WAS PREVIOUSLY FURNISHED. 50 COMP. THE CRITERIA FOR EVALUATING THE TECHNICAL PROPOSAL MIGHT HAVE BEEN MORE SPECIFIC BUT WAS CERTAINLY NOT UNREASONABLE OR MISLEADING. 3. THE COMPETITION REQUIRED BY ASPR 2-502(A) WAS OBTAINED WHEN THE AIR FORCE RECEIVED PROPOSALS FROM TWO QUALIFIED SOURCES. IS UNABLE TO CONCLUDE THAT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER ACTED UNREASONABLY OR IN BAD FAITH IN FINDING WOOD-IVEY RESPONSIBLE. 5.

B-174737, APR 12, 1972

BID PROTEST - IMPROPER METHOD OF PROCUREMENT - EVALUATION CRITERIA - INSUFFICIENT COMPETITION - BIDDER RESPONSIBILITY - DISCLOSURE OF PROPRIETARY INFORMATION DECISION DENYING THE PROTEST OF CUBIC CORPORATION AGAINST AWARD OF THE SECOND STEP OF A FORMALLY-ADVERTISED PROCUREMENT TO THE WOOD-IVEY SYSTEMS CORPORATION UNDER AN IFB ISSUED BY THE OGDEN AIR MATERIEL AREA, HILL AFB, UTAH. PROTESTANT'S CONTENTIONS ARE ANSWERED AS FOLLOWS: 1. A DETERMINATION AS TO THE MOST APPROPRIATE METHOD OF PROCUREMENT IS PRIMARILY WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF THE PROCURING ACTIVITY AND SUCH DETERMINATION WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED BY GAO WHEN IT IS SUPPORTED BY FACTS SUCH AS THE AIR FORCE EXPLANATION WITH WHICH CUBIC WAS PREVIOUSLY FURNISHED. 50 COMP. GEN. 346 (1970). 2. THE CRITERIA FOR EVALUATING THE TECHNICAL PROPOSAL MIGHT HAVE BEEN MORE SPECIFIC BUT WAS CERTAINLY NOT UNREASONABLE OR MISLEADING. 3. THE COMPETITION REQUIRED BY ASPR 2-502(A) WAS OBTAINED WHEN THE AIR FORCE RECEIVED PROPOSALS FROM TWO QUALIFIED SOURCES, REGARDLESS OF SUBSEQUENT DETERMINATIONS OF NONRESPONSIBILITY. 4. ON THE BASIS OF A FAVORABLE PRE-AWARD SURVEY, THE COMP. GEN. IS UNABLE TO CONCLUDE THAT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER ACTED UNREASONABLY OR IN BAD FAITH IN FINDING WOOD-IVEY RESPONSIBLE. 5. THE RESTRICTION AGAINST DISCLOSURE OF PROPRIETARY INFORMATION CONTAINED IN A BIDDER'S STEP 1 PROPOSAL CONTINUES ON STEP 2. B-165617, MARCH 3, 1969. FOR THE FOREGOING REASONS THE PROTEST IS DENIED.

TO CUBIC CORPORATION:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 17, 1971, AND SUBSEQUENT CORRESPONDENCE, PROTESTING AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO THE WOOD IVEY SYSTEMS CORPORATION FOR MODIFYING THE MULTIPLE AIRBORNE TARGET TRAJECTORY SYSTEM LOCATED AT TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, TOGETHER WITH VARIOUS DATA, HANDBOOKS, AND SPARE PARTS, UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS (IFB) NO. F42600-71-B-3521, THE SECOND STEP OF A TWO-STEP FORMAL ADVERTISED PROCUREMENT, ISSUED BY THE OGDEN AIR MATERIEL AREA, HILL AIR FORCE BASE, UTAH. ALTHOUGH YOUR PROTEST WAS MADE TO OUR OFFICE PRIOR TO THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT, THE DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE, ON OR ABOUT MARCH 15, 1972, TO WOOD-IVEY.

THE FIRST-STEP LETTER REQUEST FOR TECHNICAL PROPOSALS (LRTP) WAS ISSUED ON JUNE 17, 1971. PRIOR TO THE CLOSING DATE FOR RECEIPT OF TECHNICAL PROPOSALS, WHICH WAS EXTENDED TO JULY 30, 1971, TWO AMENDMENTS CLARIFIED AND MODIFIED THE SPECIFICATIONS AND DELETED VARIOUS ERRONEOUS REFERENCES IN THE LRTP. A BIDDERS' CONFERENCE WAS CONDUCTED ON JUNE 29 AND 30, 1971, FOR EIGHT POTENTIAL CONTRACTORS. EIGHTEEN FIRMS WERE FURNISHED COPIES OF THE LRTP. PROPOSALS WERE RECEIVED FROM YOUR COMPANY AND WOOD-IVEY, AND BOTH WERE DETERMINED TO BE ACCEPTABLE. CONFERENCES WERE SUBSEQUENTLY HELD WITH THE TWO FIRMS AT WHICH TIME THEIR PROPOSALS WERE FURTHER DISCUSSED. THE STEP-TWO INVITATION FOR BIDS (IFB) WAS ISSUED ON OCTOBER 14, 1971, TO THE TWO FIRMS WHICH HAD SUBMITTED ACCEPTABLE PROPOSALS, FOR RETURN BY THE CLOSING DATE OF NOVEMBER 12, 1971. THE BIDS WERE OPENED ON NOVEMBER 12, 1971, AND WERE ABSTRACTED AS FOLLOWS:

WOOD-IVEY CORPORATION $ 378,734.00

CUBIC CORPORATION 2,028,700.00

IN RESPONSE TO THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S REQUEST, WOOD-IVEY REVIEWED ITS PRICES AND CONFIRMED THEM AS CORRECT. A PRE-AWARD SURVEY WAS CONDUCTED, AND THE SURVEY REPORT RECOMMENDED AWARD TO WOOD-IVEY. AS PREVIOUSLY INDICATED AN AWARD WAS MADE TO WOOD-IVEY ON OR ABOUT MARCH 15, 1972.

YOU CONTEND THAT THE TWO-STEP FORMAL ADVERTISING METHOD USED IN THE INSTANT PROCUREMENT WAS NOT APPROPRIATE BECAUSE NOT ALL OF THE NECESSARY CONDITIONS LISTED IN ASPR 2-502(A) FOR USE OF THE TWO-STEP METHOD WERE PRESENT. THAT SECTION READS AS FOLLOWS:

"(A) TWO-STEP FORMAL ADVERTISING SHALL BE USED IN PREFERENCE TO NEGOTIATION WHEN ALL OF THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS ARE PRESENT, UNLESS OTHER FACTORS REQUIRE THE USE OF NEGOTIATION, E.G., 3-213;

(I) AVAILABLE SPECIFICATIONS OR PURCHASE DESCRIPTIONS ARE NOT SUFFICIENTLY DEFINITE OR COMPLETE OR MAY BE TOO RESTRICTIVE, AND THE LISTING OF THE SALIENT CHARACTERISTICS IN A 'BRAND NAME OR EQUAL' DESCRIPTION WOULD LIKEWISE BE TOO RESTRICTIVE, TO PERMIT FULL AND FREE COMPETITION WITHOUT TECHNICAL EVALUATION, AND ANY NECESSARY DISCUSSION, OF THE TECHNICAL ASPECTS OF THE REQUIREMENT TO INSURE MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN EACH SOURCE AND THE GOVERNMENT;

(II) DEFINITE CRITERIA EXIST FOR EVALUATING TECHNICAL PROPOSALS, SUCH AS DESIGN, MANUFACTURING, TESTING, AND PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS, AND SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS FOR OPERATIONAL SUITABILITY AND EASE OF MAINTENANCE;

(III) MORE THAN ONE TECHNICALLY QUALIFIED SOURCE IS EXPECTED TO BE AVAILABLE;

(IV) SUFFICIENT TIME WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR USE OF THE TWO-STEP METHOD; AND

(V) A FIRM FIXED-PRICE CONTRACT OR A FIXED-PRICE CONTRACT WITH ESCALATION WILL BE USED."

YOU CONTEND THAT THE PROCEDURES FOLLOWED WERE DEFICIENT AND NO AWARD SHOULD HAVE BEEN MADE BECAUSE OF A LACK OF MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN EACH CONTRACTOR AND THE PROCURING AGENCY. ALSO, YOU CITE AN ALLEGEDLY AMBIGUOUS AND DEFICIENT STATEMENT OF WORK, PURCHASE DESCRIPTION, DD FORM 1423 AND THE AFAD 71-531-(18), ALONG WITH A LACK OF DEFINITE CRITERIA FOR EVALUATING TECHNICAL PROPOSALS, AND A FAILURE TO DISCLOSE MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS. YOU ALSO POINT OUT THAT THE MEAN TIME BETWEEN FAILURE (MTBF) REQUIREMENT COULD PRODUCE A CLAIM AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT. FINALLY, YOU ALLEGE THAT THE SOLICITATION AUTHORIZES THE SUCCESSFUL OFFEROR TO MAKE CHANGES OR SUBSTITUTIONS TO EQUIPMENT OFFERED BY THE TECHNICAL PROPOSAL. WE BELIEVE THE FOLLOWING EXPLANATION PROVIDED BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER (A COPY OF WHICH WAS PREVIOUSLY FURNISHED TO YOU BY THE AIR FORCE) ADEQUATELY ANSWERS THESE ALLEGATIONS:

"(A) A MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING DID EXIST BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND EACH CONTRACTOR WITHIN THE INTENT OF TWO-STEP FORMAL ADVERTISING. CUBIC CORP STATED IN PARA. 2.1 OF THEIR TECHNICAL PROPOSAL THAT 'CUBIC FULLY UNDERSTANDS THE AIR FORCE REQUIREMENTS TO IMPROVE MATTS RELIABILITY, MAINTAINABILITY, AND SUPPORTABILITY.' THIS COMPANY WAS THE ORIGINAL MANUFACTURER OF THE MATTS SYSTEM AND AS SUCH HAD A TECHNICAL ADVANTAGE OVER COMPETITION. TWO OF THEIR ENGINEERS ATTENDED THE BIDDER'S CONFERENCE AT TYNDALL AND PARTICIPATED IN A QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION. THE CONFERENCE WAS OPEN TO DISCUSSION FOR CONTRACTORS IN ATTENDANCE TO SUBMIT QUESTIONS EITHER ORALLY OR WRITTEN TO AIR FORCE REPRESENTATIVES WHO IN TURN ANSWERED ALL QUESTIONS POSED TO THEM. THE QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION COVERED ALL ASPECTS OF THE STATEMENT OF WORK AND PURCHASE DESCRIPTION GOVERNING PERFORMANCE, MAINTAINABILITY, RELIABILITY AND EVALUATION CRITERIA FOR ACCEPTABILITY OF TECHNICAL PROPOSALS. ALL CONTRACTOR PERSONNEL WERE BRIEFED ON TWO-STEP ADVERTISING TECHNIQUES AND WERE LATER TAKEN TO A MATTS SITE WHERE ADDITIONAL TECHNICAL QUESTIONS WERE ANSWERED AFTER GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL PROVIDED A COMPREHENSIVE DISCUSSION ON THE OLD SYSTEM AND WHAT WAS DESIRED IN THE NEW SYSTEM. FINALLY, ANY AMBIGUITY OR PROBLEM AREA IN THE LRFTP, PURCHASE DESCRIPTION, TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS AND EVALUATION CRITERIA BROUGHT OUT AT THIS CONFERENCE WERE INCLUDED IN AMENDMENT NO. 2 TO THE LRFTP. PRIOR TO ADJOURNING THE CONFERENCE ALL CONTRACTOR REPRESENTATIVES WERE TOLD IF ADDITIONAL PROBLEMS AROSE THEY WERE TO CONTACT THE OOAMA PROCUREMENT REPRESENTATIVE FOR CLARIFICATION.

"(B) THE PURCHASE DESCRIPTION AND STATEMENT OF WORK ARE NOT DETAILED DESIGN SPECIFICATIONS. THEIR PURPOSE WAS TO PROVIDE PERFORMANCE CRITERIA WHICH COULD BE USED BY PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTORS IN PREPARING THEIR TECHNICAL DESIGN APPROACH TO THE MATTS MODIFICATION. CRITICAL PARAMETERS MAY VARY WITH DESIGN AND THEY WERE LEFT TO THE CONTRACTOR TO RECOGNIZE AND DETERMINE. IT IS NOTEWORTHY THAT ALL PROSPECTIVE BIDDERS WERE GIVEN THE SAME INFORMATION, ALL TECHNICAL PROPOSALS WERE EVALUATED ON THE SAME CRITERIA, AND BOTH FIRMS PROVIDING TECHNICAL PROPOSALS WERE DETERMINED ACCEPTABLE AFTER SOME MINOR CLARIFICATION. THEREFORE IT IS OUR CONTENTION THAT THE STATEMENT OF WORK AND PURCHASE DESCRIPTION WERE NOT AMBIGUOUS OR DEFICIENT FOR USE IN A TWO-STEP ADVERTISED PROCUREMENT.

"(C) TWO-STEP FORMAL ADVERTISING WAS USED TO ENCOURAGE CONTRACTORS TO PRESENT TECHNICAL PROPOSALS OVER A WIDE RANGE IN ORDER TO BRING THE MATTS FACILITY UP TO THE PRESENT STATE OF THE ART. OUR PURCHASE DESCRIPTION AND STATEMENT OF WORK WERE ADEQUATE AND PROVIDED PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTORS PERFORMANCE CRITERIA WHICH WOULD ENABLE THEM TO RESPOND WITH THEIR TECHNICAL APPROACH AND PROVIDE THE GOVERNMENT MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS TO MODIFY OUR MATTS SYSTEM.

"(D) THE PROTESTOR ALLEGES THAT THE SOLICITATION AUTHORIZES CHANGES TO THE CONTRACT AFTER AWARD. IF CHANGES ARE REQUIRED, THEY WILL BE MADE BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER BY AMENDMENT TO THE CONTRACT AND 'ONLY' AFTER ADEQUATE CONSIDERATION AND MUTUALITY HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED FROM THE CONTRACTING PARTIES. THE STATEMENT WAS ALSO INCLUDED TO PUT CONTRACTORS ON NOTICE THAT CHANGES TO THEIR TECHNICAL APPROACH AFTER APPROVAL BY THE GOVERNMENT WAS PROHIBITED UNLESS AUTHORIZED BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER. THE TEST OUTLINE WAS REQUIRED AFTER CONTRACT AWARD SINCE IT WAS THE GOVERNMENT'S THINKING THAT THIS COSTLY DOCUMENT SHOULD BE PROVIDED BY ONLY THE FIRM WHO WAS SUCCESSFUL UNDER THE SECOND STEP OF THE TWO-STEP PROCUREMENT. THIS DOCUMENT WAS NOT ESSENTIAL TO DETERMINE ACCEPTABILITY OF THE TECHNICAL PROPOSAL BUT WAS REQUIRED FOR GOVERNMENT TESTING AND ACCEPTANCE OF THE DELIVERED HARDWARE AT THE INSTALLATION SITE.

"(E) THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT CONSIDER THE DD FORM 1423 AND THE AFAD 71- 531-(18) AMBIGUOUS AND DEFICIENT. DURING THE BIDDERS CONFERENCE HELD AT TYNDALL AFB, THE DATA REQUIREMENTS WERE REVIEWED WITH THE PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTORS BY A GOVERNMENT AND DATA MANAGEMENT OFFICER. THE DISCUSSION WAS OPENED TO ORAL AND WRITTEN QUESTIONS WHICH WERE DISCUSSED AND ANSWERED TO THE SATISFACTION OF THE ATTENDEES. THE CONTRACTORS WERE INSTRUCTED TO CONTACT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER IF ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS WERE TO ARISE AFTER RETURNING HOME. THE FIRST STEP OF THE TWO-STEP ADVERTISED PROCUREMENT REQUIRED THE CONTRACTORS TO DESCRIBE THEIR APPROACH TO THE DATA REQUIREMENTS. THIS TECHNIQUE IS REGULARLY USED TO INSURE THAT THE BIDDER UNDERSTANDS WHAT IS REQUIRED AND THUS BECOMES AN EVALUATION FACTOR FOR STEP ONE ACCEPTABILITY. CUBIC'S DATA APPROACH WAS ACCEPTED UNDER THE FIRST STEP OF THE PROCUREMENT. THE GOVERNMENT PROVIDED CUBIC ADDITIONAL DATA CLARIFICATION IN WRITTEN FORM WHEN THIS FIRM WAS PREPARING STEP TWO WHICH ENABLED THEM TO BID THE DATA REQUIREMENTS AND THUS BE RESPONSIVE TO THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE INVITATION FOR BIDS. THE PROTESTOR'S COMPARISON OF TECHNICAL ORDER PAGES IS NOT VALID. THE GOVERNMENT'S EVALUATION OF THE ACCEPTABILITY OF THE CONTRACTOR'S DATA APPROACH WAS NOT BASED ON PAGE COUNT BUT ON BEING TECHNICALLY ADEQUATE. FURTHER, NO TWO CONTRACTORS WOULD NECESSARILY HAVE THE SAME NUMBER OF PAGES SINCE THEIR TECHNICAL APPROACH WOULD DICTATE THE COVERAGE THAT WOULD BE REQUIRED IN THE TECHNICAL MANUALS.

"(F) THE GOVERNMENT RECOGNIZES CUBIC'S POSITION CONCERNING MEAN TIME BETWEEN FAILURE (MTBF). ABSOLUTE PROOF OF THIS REQUIREMENT WILL NOT BE DEMONSTRATED UNTIL A PERIOD OF RUNNING TIME HAS PASSED. HOWEVER, EACH TECHNICAL PROPOSAL CONTAINED WHAT THE GOVERNMENT CONSIDERS AN ACCEPTABLE AND FEASIBLE DESIGN APPROACH TO MEET OR EXCEED THE REQUIREMENTS OF MTBF. THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT AGREE THAT THIS REQUIREMENT COULD BE THE BASIS FOR A LATER CLAIM.

"(G) THE DETAILED SPECIFICATION OF THE MATTS SYSTEM REFERRED TO BY CUBIC IS OUTDATED AND SPECIFIES PARAMETERS CONTAINED THEREIN WERE PREVALENT DURING THE VACUUM TUBE TECHNOLOGY ERA. IT MUST BE REITERATED THAT THE GOVERNMENT WANTED THE LATEST STATE OF THE ART INVOLVING INTEGRATED CIRCUITS OF THIS ERA. TO OBTAIN THIS GOAL, A PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATION AND PURCHASE DESCRIPTION WERE USED WHICH ENCOURAGED MANY DESIGN APPROACHES AND THUS REQUIRED THE USE OF THE TWO-STEP FORMAL ADVERTISING PROCEDURES. THESE DOCUMENTS, ALONG WITH THE LETTER REQUEST FOR TECHNICAL PROPOSALS AND AMENDMENTS, DID PROVIDE ADEQUATE PERFORMANCE CRITERIA TO ALL PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTORS. IT IS ALSO THE GOVERNMENT'S CONTENTION THAT THE DOCUMENTS MENTIONED ABOVE DID CONTAIN DEFINITE CRITERIA FOR TECHNICAL PROPOSAL EVALUATION IN THE AREAS OF PERFORMANCE, TESTING, OPERATIONAL SUITABILITY AND EASE OF MAINTENANCE. WE ALSO CONTEND THAT THESE DOCUMENTS WERE ADEQUATE TO ENABLE ANY CONTRACTOR WITH EXPERTISE IN ELECTRONICS TO RESPOND TO THE GOVERNMENT'S REQUIREMENTS BY USING THE TWO-STEP FORMAL ADVERTISING PROCEDURES."

AN ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION TO USE THE TWO-STEP PROCEDURE BECAUSE OF THE INSUFFICIENCY OF TECHNICAL DATA TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF A SINGLE- STEP ADVERTISED PROCUREMENT IS ONE WITHIN THE COGNIZANCE OF THE PROCUREMENT OFFICERS, WHO ARE BETTER QUALIFIED TO REVIEW AND DETERMINE THE QUALITATIVE REQUIREMENTS OF THE AGENCY, AND SUCH DETERMINATION, WHEN SUPPORTED BY THE FACTS, WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED. SEE 40 COMP. GEN. 514 (1961); 50 COMP. GEN. 346 (1970).

YOU NEXT CONTEND THAT THE LRTP DID NOT CONTAIN THE CRITERIA FOR EVALUATING THE TECHNICAL PROPOSAL AS REQUIRED BY ASPR 2-503.1(A)(IV). THIS REGARD WE FEEL IT IS SIGNIFICANT TO NOTE THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS WHICH APPEAR IN PURCHASE DESCRIPTION NO. MME-PD71-4, WHICH IS THE APPLICABLE PURCHASE DESCRIPTION FOR THIS PROCUREMENT: 3.2.1 PERFORMANCE CHARACTERISTICS, 3.4 RELIABILITY/MAINTAINABILITY, 3.4.1 RELIABILITY, AND 3.4.2 MAINTAINABILITY. FURTHER, PARAGRAPH 1G OF THE AMENDMENT DATED JULY 16, 1971, TO THE LRFTP CONFIRMS MEASUREMENTS AND SPECIFICATIONS PROVIDED AS DESIGN GUIDELINES TO BIDDERS. THE CONTRACTING OFFICER FURTHER ADVISES THAT EVALUATION CRITERIA WERE GIVEN AT THE BIDDERS' CONFERENCE. ALTHOUGH YOU HAVE INDICATED THAT YOUR NOTES TAKEN AT THE BIDDERS' CONFERENCE DO NOT REVEAL EVALUATION CRITERIA, THE BIDDERS' CONFERENCE DID REPRESENT AN APPROPRIATE OPPORTUNITY TO CLARIFY ANY MISUNDERSTANDING CONCERNING THE RELEVANT CRITERIA. IN OUR JUDGMENT, WHILE THE EVALUATION CRITERIA MIGHT HAVE BEEN MORE SPECIFIC, NO OFFEROR SHOULD HAVE BEEN MISLED NOR WERE THE CRITERIA USED UNREASONABLE. OUR OFFICE HAS RECOGNIZED THAT THE PURCHASING ACTIVITY HAS THE PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY FOR DETERMINING ITS MINIMUM NEEDS AND WHETHER A PROPOSAL MEETS THOSE NEEDS. SEE B-170492, OCTOBER 26, 1970.

YOU HAVE ALLEGED THAT CUBIC TELETYPE MESSAGE 10,472D, DATED JUNE 25, 1971, WHICH REQUESTED THE CONTRACTING OFFICER TO FURNISH EVALUATION CRITERIA, HAS NOT BEEN ANSWERED. THE CONTRACTING OFFICER HAS REPORTED THAT THE MESSAGE WAS READ AND ANSWERED BY GOVERNMENT ENGINEERS BEFORE ALL CONTRACTOR PERSONNEL AT THE BIDDERS' CONFERENCE, AND THAT CUBIC ENGINEERS INDICATED AT THAT TIME THAT THE QUESTIONS WERE ANSWERED TO THEIR SATISFACTION. NEXT, YOU CLAIM THAT SUFFICIENT PROPOSALS WERE NOT RECEIVED UNDER STEP 1 TO ASSURE ADEQUATE PRICE COMPETITION. CONDITION (III) OF ASPR 2-502(A), SET OUT ABOVE, RELATES TO THE EXPECTATION OF REASONABLE COMPETITION FROM MORE THAN ONE TECHNICALLY QUALIFIED SOURCE. THIS EXPECTATION WAS REALIZED WHEN THE AIR FORCE RECEIVED PROPOSALS FROM TWO QUALIFIED SOURCES. WHETHER THE OTHER SOURCE IS IN FACT A RESPONSIBLE PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTOR IS FOR THE AIR FORCE TO DETERMINE UNDER THE CRITERIA SET OUT IN ASPR 1-903. IN ANY EVENT, THE COMPETITION REQUIRED BY ASPR 2-502(A) WAS OBTAINED.

TURNING NOW TO YOUR CONTENTION THAT WOOD-IVEY IS NOT A RESPONSIBLE BIDDER, THE ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT REVEALED THAT A PRE-AWARD SURVEY WAS CONDUCTED, RESULTING IN A RECOMMENDATION FOR AWARD. IN THIS REGARD, WE DO NOT QUESTION AN AGENCY'S DETERMINATION OF A CONTRACTOR'S QUALIFICATIONS IN THE ABSENCE OF EITHER CLEAR EVIDENCE OF BAD FAITH OR A CONVINCING SHOWING THAT NO SUBSTANTIAL GROUNDS EXIST FOR THE ADMINISTRATIVE DETERMINATION. 45 COMP. GEN. 4, 6 (1965); 37 COMP. GEN. 430 (1957); AND B-172656, JULY 26, 1971. OUR REVIEW HAS UNCOVERED NO BASIS UPON WHICH WE MIGHT CONCLUDE THAT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER ACTED UNREASONABLY OR IN BAD FAITH IN FINDING WOOD-IVEY RESPONSIBLE.

WITH RESPECT TO YOUR REQUEST TO BE PERMITTED TO REVIEW WOOD-IVEY'S PROPOSAL, OUR OFFICE HAS HELD, CONSISTENT WITH THE LANGUAGE OF ASPR 3 507.1, THAT THE RESTRICTION AGAINST DISCLOSURE OF PROPRIETARY INFORMATION CONTAINED IN A BIDDER'S STEP-ONE PROPOSAL CONTINUES ON STEP TWO. SEE B- 165617, MARCH 6, 1969.

FOR THE REASONS SET FORTH ABOVE, WE FIND NO VALID BASIS ON WHICH TO QUESTION THE ACTION OF THE AIR FORCE IN AWARDING THE CONTRACT TO THE LOW OFFEROR.