B-176485, AUG 11, 1972

B-176485: Aug 11, 1972

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PROTESTANT ALLEGES THAT FORESTERS EMPLOYED BY SESSIONS AND SMITH ARE NOT LICENSED BY THE STATE OF ALABAMA. PROTEST IS DENIED. WHICH YOU CONTEND IS A VIOLATION OF STATE LAW. YOU POINT OUT THAT A "TREE INVENTORY PLOT EXPERIENCE QUALIFICATION QUESTIONNAIRE" ATTACHED TO THE INVITATION FOR BIDS REQUIRED A LIST OF THE NAMES OF EMPLOYEES WHO ARE LICENSED AND STATE REGISTERED AS FORESTERS. YOU REQUESTED INFORMATION AS TO THE CRITERIA USED TO DETERMINE THAT THE SUCCESSFUL BIDDER WAS. SUGGESTING THAT THE BIDDER'S PAST HISTORY ON SIMILAR JOBS SHOULD HAVE BEEN SCRUTINIZED BEFORE AWARD WAS MADE. WE CONCLUDE THAT THE AWARD TO SESSIONS & SMITH WAS PROPERLY MADE AND IS THEREFORE NOT SUBJECT TO QUESTION BY OUR OFFICE.

B-176485, AUG 11, 1972

BID PROTEST - ELIGIBILITY - STATE LICENSING REQUIREMENTS NOT APPLICABLE DECISION DENYING PROTEST OF RESOURCE MANAGEMENT SERVICES, INC., AGAINST THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO SESSIONS & SMITH BY THE FOREST SERVICE UNDER AN IFB ISSUED AT MONTGOMERY, ALA., FOR A TIMBER SAMPLE INVENTORY IN CERTAIN ALABAMA COUNTIES. PROTESTANT ALLEGES THAT FORESTERS EMPLOYED BY SESSIONS AND SMITH ARE NOT LICENSED BY THE STATE OF ALABAMA. THIS, HOWEVER, DOES NOT PRECLUDE A FEDERAL CONTRACT, BECAUSE STATE OR LOCAL LICENSING REQUIREMENTS DO NOT CONTROL ELIGIBILITY TO PERFORM CONTRACTS WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. THEREFORE, PROTEST IS DENIED.

TO RESOURCE MANAGEMENT SERVICE, INC.:

YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 9, 1972, PROTESTED THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO SESSIONS & SMITH BY THE FOREST SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS R8-1-72-16, ISSUED AT MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA, FOR TIMBER SAMPLE INVENTORY ESTABLISHMENT AND MEASUREMENT IN LAWRENCE, WINSTON AND FRANKLIN COUNTIES, ALABAMA.

YOU PROTESTED THAT SESSIONS & SMITH DOES NOT EMPLOY ANY FORESTERS LICENSED BY THE STATE OF ALABAMA, WHICH YOU CONTEND IS A VIOLATION OF STATE LAW. ALSO, YOU POINT OUT THAT A "TREE INVENTORY PLOT EXPERIENCE QUALIFICATION QUESTIONNAIRE" ATTACHED TO THE INVITATION FOR BIDS REQUIRED A LIST OF THE NAMES OF EMPLOYEES WHO ARE LICENSED AND STATE REGISTERED AS FORESTERS; AND YOU STATE THAT THIS "IMPLIES" A REQUIREMENT THAT AT LEAST ONE ALABAMA REGISTERED FORESTER BE USED IN FULFILLING THE CONTRACTUAL REQUIREMENTS. FINALLY, YOU REQUESTED INFORMATION AS TO THE CRITERIA USED TO DETERMINE THAT THE SUCCESSFUL BIDDER WAS, IN FACT, A RESPONSIBLE PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTOR, SUGGESTING THAT THE BIDDER'S PAST HISTORY ON SIMILAR JOBS SHOULD HAVE BEEN SCRUTINIZED BEFORE AWARD WAS MADE.

FOR REASONS STATED BELOW, WE CONCLUDE THAT THE AWARD TO SESSIONS & SMITH WAS PROPERLY MADE AND IS THEREFORE NOT SUBJECT TO QUESTION BY OUR OFFICE. FIRST, IT IS WELL SETTLED THAT STATE OR LOCAL LICENSING REQUIREMENTS DO NOT CONTROL THE ELIGIBILITY OF BIDDERS TO OBTAIN GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS. SEE B-164566, JUNE 20, 1968, COPY ENCLOSED. SECONDLY, THE "TREE INVENTORY PLOT EXPERIENCE QUALIFICATION QUESTIONNAIRE" MENTIONED BY YOU CONTAINS NO REQUIREMENT, STATED OR IMPLIED, THAT CONTRACTOR CREW MEMBERS BE LICENSED AS FORESTERS BY THE STATE OF ALABAMA. THAT QUESTIONNAIRE WAS DESIGNED TO AID IN DETERMINING THE ABILITY OF BIDDERS TO PERFORM A CONTRACT OF THE TYPE HERE CONTEMPLATED ON THE BASIS OF PAST EXPERIENCE AND THE STATED QUALIFICATIONS OF PERSONNEL PROPOSED TO BE USED IN FULFILLMENT OF THE CONTRACTUAL REQUIREMENTS. WHILE QUESTION 8 OF THAT QUESTIONNAIRE, CITED BY YOU, REQUESTED THE NAMES OF EMPLOYEES LICENSED AND STATE REGISTERED AS FORESTERS, IT CONTAINED NO REQUIREMENT THAT ANY EMPLOYEES IN FACT BE LICENSED BY ANY STATE AS A PREREQUISITE TO A CONTRACT AWARD, AND THEREFORE CANNOT BE INTERPRETED AS REQUIRING ALABAMA REGISTRATION. IN THIS REGARD, AS YOU WERE ADVISED BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER, MR. MERLIN B. SMITH, PARTNER IN THE FIRM OF SESSIONS & SMITH, WHILE NOT LICENSED IN ALABAMA, IS A LICENSED FORESTER IN THE STATE OF ARKANSAS.

FINALLY, WITH RESPECT TO YOUR QUESTION AS TO THE CRITERIA USED TO DETERMINE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE SUCCESSFUL BIDDER, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER REPORTS THAT HE CHECKED WITH THREE OTHER NATIONAL FORESTS IN WHICH SESSIONS & SMITH HAD PERFORMED TIMBER INVENTORY WORK SIMILAR TO THAT INVOLVED IN THIS INSTANCE AND ASCERTAINED THAT IN ALL CASES THE SERVICES RENDERED WERE REPORTED TO HAVE BEEN RELIABLY AND TIMELY PERFORMED. WITH RESPECT TO DETERMINATIONS OF BIDDER RESPONSIBILITY, IT IS ALSO A WELL- SETTLED RULE THAT SUCH DETERMINATIONS ARE PRIMARILY THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CONTRACTING AGENCY NOT SUBJECT TO QUESTION BY OUR OFFICE WHERE, AS HERE, THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF BAD FAITH OR THE LACK OF A REASONABLE BASIS FOR THE DETERMINATION. SEE B-164566, SUPRA.

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