B-175959, JUL 11, 1972

B-175959: Jul 11, 1972

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HAS NO BASIS TO QUESTION THE AGENCY'S DETERMINATION THAT THE MATERIAL OFFERED BY MARIANNA IS COMPARABLE TO THE 5086-H34 ALUMINUM LISTED IN THE SPECIFICATIONS. INCORPORATED: REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE LETTER OF MAY 10. THE SOLICITATION WAS ISSUED ON MARCH 9. HAVE A BOTTOM THICKNESS OF AT LEAST .135 INCHES. HAVE A BEAM OF NOT LESS THAN 84 INCHES.". BIDS WERE OPENED ON APRIL 10. AIR GATOR'S BID WAS $6. ONE BID OFFERING A HULL CONSTRUCTED OF 5086-H34 ALUMINUM WITH A THICKNESS OF .135 INCHES WAS FOR $6. AN ALTERNATE BID WAS OFFERED FOR A BOAT WITH A FIBER GLASS REINFORCED PLASTIC (FRP) HULL FOR $5. THE COVER LETTER WITH MARIANNA'S BID EXPLAINED THE ALTERNATE OFFER: "TRANSMITTED HEREWITH ARE SPECIFICATIONS COMPARING F.R.P.

B-175959, JUL 11, 1972

BID PROTEST - ALTERNATE BID - ALLEGED NONRESPONSIVENESS DECISION DENYING THE PROTEST OF AIR GATOR, INC., AGAINST AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO MARIANNA AIR MOTIVE CORPORATION UNDER AN IFB ISSUED BY THE MANAGEMENT SERVICES DIVISION FOR RESEARCH, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FOR AN AIRBOAT. THE COMP. GEN. HAS NO BASIS TO QUESTION THE AGENCY'S DETERMINATION THAT THE MATERIAL OFFERED BY MARIANNA IS COMPARABLE TO THE 5086-H34 ALUMINUM LISTED IN THE SPECIFICATIONS. ACCORDINGLY, THE PROTEST MUST BE DENIED.

TO AIR GATOR, INCORPORATED:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO THE LETTER OF MAY 10, 1972, PROTESTING AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO ANOTHER CONCERN UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS NO. 59-RN -ARS-72, ISSUED BY THE MANAGEMENT SERVICES DIVISION FOR RESEARCH, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA.

THE SOLICITATION WAS ISSUED ON MARCH 9, 1972, BY THE MANAGEMENT SERVICES DIVISION FOR RESEARCH, NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA, FOR ONE AIRBOAT FOR RESEARCH PROGRAMS ON ACQUATIC WEEDS. THE "PERFORMANCE AND TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS" PROVIDED AS FOLLOWS ON PAGE 5 OF THE INVITATION:

"THE HULL OF THE BOAT SHALL BE DESIGNED TO BE OPERATED IN SWAMPY, SHALLOW, WEED INFESTED AREAS WITHOUT HINDRANCE. FOR GOOD MANEUVERABILITY AND TO REDUCE SKIDDING, THE HULL SHALL FURTHER BE OF THE TRIP-CHINE DESIGN. TO INSURE RUGGED CONTINUOUS SERVICE, THE HULL MUST BE CONSTRUCTED OF A MATERIAL EQUIVALENT TO WELDED 5086-H34 ALUMINUM; HAVE A BOTTOM THICKNESS OF AT LEAST .135 INCHES; AND HAVE A BEAM OF NOT LESS THAN 84 INCHES."

BIDS WERE OPENED ON APRIL 10, 1972. AIR GATOR'S BID WAS $6,679 WITH A DISCOUNT OF ONE PERCENT, 10 DAYS. MARIANNA AIR MOTIVE CORPORATION SUBMITTED TWO BIDS. ONE BID OFFERING A HULL CONSTRUCTED OF 5086-H34 ALUMINUM WITH A THICKNESS OF .135 INCHES WAS FOR $6,150 LESS PROMPT PAYMENT DISCOUNT. AN ALTERNATE BID WAS OFFERED FOR A BOAT WITH A FIBER GLASS REINFORCED PLASTIC (FRP) HULL FOR $5,950. THE COVER LETTER WITH MARIANNA'S BID EXPLAINED THE ALTERNATE OFFER:

"TRANSMITTED HEREWITH ARE SPECIFICATIONS COMPARING F.R.P. (LAYUP WOVEN ROVING) WITH VARIOUS MATERIALS. YOU WILL NOTE THAT FRP NOT ONLY EXCEEDS ALUMINUM IN TENSILE STRENGTH AND BENDING STRENGTH, IT ALSO EXCEEDS STAINLESS STEEL.

"THE HULL THAT WE WOULD PROVIDE WOULD BE THICKER THAN THAT REQUIRED SO THEREFORE IT WOULD BE STRONGER, YET LIGHTER. ALUMINUM HAS A DENSITY OF APPROXIMATELY .098 POUNDS PER CUBIC INCH, WHEREAS FRP IS ONLY .059. ADDITION TO SKIN WEIGHT FRP BOATS ARE REINFORCED WITH LIGHTWEIGHT CORE MATERIALS INSTEAD OF HEAVY ANGLES."

ATTACHED TO MARIANNA'S BID WERE SPECIFICATION SHEETS AND OTHER DESCRIPTIVE MATERIAL ON FRP.

THE CONTRACTING OFFICER EVALUATED THE ALTERNATE BID AND CONFIRMED THAT FRP HAS GREATER TENSILE STRENGTH THAN 5086-H34 ALUMINUM AND EVEN GREATER TENSILE AND BENDING STRENGTH THAN 302 STAINLESS STEEL. ALSO, THROUGH CONTACTS WITH ENGINEERS WITHIN THE INDUSTRY IT WAS LEARNED THAT FRP IS THE EQUIVALENT OF 5086-H34 ALUMINUM INSOFAR AS STRUCTURAL STRENGTH AND DURABILITY ARE CONCERNED AND THAT THE MAINTENANCE COSTS OF A FRP HULL WOULD BE LESS THAN ONE MADE OF ALUMINUM. WITH RESPECT TO THE TRIP-CHINE DESIGN REQUIREMENT THE CONTRACTING OFFICER CONCLUDED THAT THERE WAS NOTHING IN MARIANNA'S BID TO INDICATE THAT THE AIRBOAT WOULD BE OTHER THAN THIS DESIGN. THE CONTRACTING OFFICER CONFIRMED THAT THE TRIP-CHINE DESIGN WOULD BE FURNISHED BY MARIANNA.

BASED ON THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS THE CONTRACTING OFFICER DETERMINED THE FRP HULL OFFERED BY MARIANNA WAS THE EQUIVALENT OF 5086 H34 ALUMINUM AND AWARD WAS MADE TO MARIANNA IN THE AMOUNT OF $5,950, ON APRIL 21, 1972. THE BOAT APPARENTLY HAS BEEN DELIVERED AS OF THE PRESENT TIME. THE BASIS OF THE PROTEST IS THAT AN AWARD WAS MADE TO A NONRESPONSIVE BIDDER.

WHETHER AN OFFERED PRODUCT MEETS THE SPECIFICATIONS IS PRIMARILY FOR DETERMINATION BY THE CONTRACTING AGENCY. 17 COMP. GEN. 554, 557 (1938). WE HAVE NO BASIS TO QUESTION THE TECHNICAL DETERMINATION THAT THE TYPE OF FIBER GLASS MATERIAL OFFERED IN MARIANNA'S ALTERNATE BID IS COMPARABLE TO THE 5086-H34 ALUMINUM; NOR IS THERE ANYTHING IN THE RECORD TO INDICATE THAT BIDDERS MIGHT HAVE BEEN MISLED BY THE LANGUAGE OF THE SOLICITATION WITH RESPECT TO THE ACCEPTABILITY OF SUCH MATERIAL.

ACCORDINGLY, YOUR PROTEST MUST BE DENIED.