B-176032(1), JUN 29, 1972

B-176032(1): Jun 29, 1972

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PROTESTANT CONTENDS THAT ALL OTHER BIDS SHOULD HAVE BEEN REJECTED AS NONRESPONSIVE SINCE NONE OF THEM CONTAINED THE REQUIRED LETTER DESCRIBING THE MAKE. SINCE THE REQUESTED INFORMATION IS INTENDED FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT AND IS NOT A BID CONDITION. THE SUBJECT INVITATION IS FOR AMBULANCE AND AUTOMOBILE SERVICE FROM JULY 1. THE LOW BID OF THE SEVEN SUBMITTED IN RESPONSE TO THIS SOLICITATION WAS THAT OF LEXINGTON AMBULANCE SERVICE. SHOULD BE REJECTED BECAUSE YOUR FIRM WAS THE ONLY BIDDER THAT SUBMITTED WITH ITS BID A LETTER DESCRIBING THE MAKE. YEAR OF VEHICLES PROPOSED TO BE USED IN FULFILLMENT OF THE CONTRACT AS REQUIRED BY PARAGRAPH 4 OF THE SOLICITATION SPECIAL CONDITIONS WHICH PROVIDES: QUALIFICATIONS(A) PROPOSAL WILL BE CONSIDERED ONLY FROM BIDDERS WHO ARE REGULARLY ESTABLISHED IN THE BUSINESS CALLED FOR AND WHO ARE FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND HAVE THE NECESSARY EQUIPMENT AND PERSONNEL TO FURNISH SERVICE IN THE VOLUME REQUIRED FOR ALL THE ITEMS UNDER THIS CONTRACT.

B-176032(1), JUN 29, 1972

BID PROTEST - BIDDER QUALIFICATIONS - RECEIPT AFTER BID OPENING DENIAL OF PROTEST BY BROWN AMBULANCE SERVICE AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO ANY OTHER BIDDER UNDER SOLICITATION 518-73-9, ISSUED BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL, BEDFORD, MASS; FOR AMBULANCE AND AUTOMOBILE SERVICES. PROTESTANT CONTENDS THAT ALL OTHER BIDS SHOULD HAVE BEEN REJECTED AS NONRESPONSIVE SINCE NONE OF THEM CONTAINED THE REQUIRED LETTER DESCRIBING THE MAKE, MODEL, AND YEAR OF VEHICLES PROPOSED TO BE USED IN FULFILLMENT OF THE CONTRACT. THE COMP. GEN. AGREES WITH VA THAT THIS REQUIREMENT RELATED TO THE QUALIFICATION OR RESPONSIBILITY OF THE BIDDER, NOT THE RESPONSIVENESS OF THE BID. SINCE THE REQUESTED INFORMATION IS INTENDED FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT AND IS NOT A BID CONDITION, IT MAY BE FURNISHED AND ACCEPTED AFTER BID OPENING.

TO BROWN AMBULANCE SERVICE:

BY LETTER DATED MAY 18, 1972, YOU PROTESTED AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO ANY OTHER BIDDER UNDER SOLICITATION 518-73-9, ISSUED BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL, BEDFORD, MASSACHUSETTS. AWARD OF A CONTRACT HAS BEEN WITHHELD PENDING RESOLUTION BY OUR OFFICE OF YOUR PROTEST AND A RELATED PROTEST BY ANOTHER BIDDER.

THE SUBJECT INVITATION IS FOR AMBULANCE AND AUTOMOBILE SERVICE FROM JULY 1, 1972, THROUGH JUNE 30, 1973. THE LOW BID OF THE SEVEN SUBMITTED IN RESPONSE TO THIS SOLICITATION WAS THAT OF LEXINGTON AMBULANCE SERVICE, INC. YOU MAINTAIN THAT ALL BIDS, EXCEPT THE ONE SUBMITTED BY YOUR FIRM, SHOULD BE REJECTED BECAUSE YOUR FIRM WAS THE ONLY BIDDER THAT SUBMITTED WITH ITS BID A LETTER DESCRIBING THE MAKE, MODEL, AND YEAR OF VEHICLES PROPOSED TO BE USED IN FULFILLMENT OF THE CONTRACT AS REQUIRED BY PARAGRAPH 4 OF THE SOLICITATION SPECIAL CONDITIONS WHICH PROVIDES:

QUALIFICATIONS(A) PROPOSAL WILL BE CONSIDERED ONLY FROM BIDDERS WHO ARE REGULARLY ESTABLISHED IN THE BUSINESS CALLED FOR AND WHO ARE FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND HAVE THE NECESSARY EQUIPMENT AND PERSONNEL TO FURNISH SERVICE IN THE VOLUME REQUIRED FOR ALL THE ITEMS UNDER THIS CONTRACT. SUCCESSFUL BIDDER SHALL MEET ALL REQUIREMENTS OF FEDERAL, STATE OR CITY CODES REGARDING OPERATIONS OF THIS TYPE OF SERVICE.

"(B) EACH BIDDER MUST SUBMIT WITH HIS BID A LETTER IN DUPLICATE FULLY DESCRIBING THE MAKE OF VEHICLE, MODEL AND YEAR WHICH HE AGREES TO FURNISH UNDER THIS PROPOSAL INCLUDING THE LOCATION AND TELEPHONE NUMBERS OF HIS ESTABLISHMENT WHERE CALLS ARE RECEIVED AND VEHICLES ARE IMMEDIATELY AVAILABLE FOR DISPATCH. THIS LETTER MUST CONTAIN INFORMATION AS TO THE METERING DEVICES OR METHODS BIDDER PROPOSES TO USE IN DETERMINING MILEAGE. THE CONTRACTING OFFICER WILL BE NOTIFIED IN WRITING OF ANY AMBULANCE EQUIPMENT ADDED AFTER AWARD OF CONTRACT.

"(C) THE RIGHT IS RESERVED TO THOROUGHLY INSPECT AND INVESTIGATE THE ESTABLISHMENT, FACILITIES, BUSINESS REPUTATION AND OTHER QUALIFICATIONS OF ANY BIDDER AND TO REJECT ANY BID, IRRESPECTIVE OF PRICE, IT SHALL BE ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED LACKING IN ANY OF THE ESSENTIALS NECESSARY TO ASSURE ACCEPTABLE STANDARDS OF PERFORMANCE. IF ANY AMBULANCE EQUIPMENT IS ADDED AFTER INSPECTION, SUBSEQUENT TO AWARD OF CONTRACT, IT SHALL BE INSPECTED AND APPROVED BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER BEFORE BEING PLACED IN USE UNDER THIS CONTRACT."

THE POSITION TAKEN BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION IN ITS REPORT TO OUR OFFICE, A COPY OF WHICH HAS BEEN FURNISHED YOU, IS THAT THE QUOTED SOLICITATION PARAGRAPH DEALS WITH THE RESPONSIBILITY OF BIDDERS AS OPPOSED TO THE RESPONSIVENESS OF THEIR BIDS, AND THAT, THEREFORE, IT IS NOT MANDATORY THAT THE INFORMATION BE FURNISHED AT THE TIME OF BID SUBMISSION. WE AGREE WITH THAT ANALYSIS.

ON THE QUESTION OF THE RESPONSIBILITY OF BIDDERS AS OPPOSED TO THE RESPONSIVENESS OF BIDS, OUR OFFICE HAS FREQUENTLY HELD THAT QUESTIONS CONCERNING THE QUALIFICATIONS OF A PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTOR ARE MATTERS OF RESPONSIBILITY, AND THAT SINCE SUCH INFORMATION IS INTENDED FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE GOVERNMENT AND NOT AS A BID CONDITION, SUCH INFORMATION MAY BE FURNISHED AND ACCEPTED AFTER THE OPENING OF BIDS. THE INFORMATION IN THE SOLICITATION PARAGRAPH RELIED ON BY YOU TO JUSTIFY REJECTION OF THE OTHER BIDS DOES NOT RELATE TO THE OBLIGATION OF A SUCCESSFUL BIDDER TO PERFORM THE RESULTING CONTRACT IN ACCORDANCE WITH ITS TERMS, BUT RATHER, AS INDICATED BY ITS HEADING, DEALS WITH THE CAPACITY OR ABILITY OF A BIDDER TO PERFORM. IT, THEREFORE, CLEARLY IS A MATTER OF RESPONSIBILITY. SEE, IN THIS REGARD, 49 COMP. GEN. 553 (1970).

IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ABOVE CONSIDERATIONS, YOUR PROTEST IS DENIED.