B-178989, MAR 6, 1974

B-178989: Mar 6, 1974

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SINCE QUESTIONS ADDRESSED TO OFFEROR DURING COURSE OF NEGOTIATIONS WERE GENERAL AND DID NOT POINT OUT SPECIFIC DEFICIENCIES IN TECHNICAL PROPOSAL. THERE WAS NO MEANINGFUL DISCUSSION WITH OFFEROR AND NO COMPLIANCE WITH ASPR 3-805.3(A) AND 51 COMP. WAS FOUND TO BE DEFICIENT IN 14 AREAS. DORSETT WAS PROVIDED AN OPPORTUNITY TO FURNISH CLARIFICATION OF THE TECHNICAL PROPOSAL. FOLLOWING REJECTION OF THE PROPOSAL AND BEFORE ANY AWARD WAS MADE. THE DORSETT PROPOSAL WAS REJECTED BECAUSE: 1. A REVIEW OF THE RECORD SHOWS THAT THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS WERE PRESENTED TO DORSETT BY ECOM AS PART OF THE 14 POINTS WHICH NEEDED CLARIFICATION BY THE ECOM EVALUATION TEAM AND IT WAS DUE TO THE FAILURE TO PROPERLY CLARIFY THEM THAT THE DORSETT PROPOSAL WAS REJECTED: "1.

B-178989, MAR 6, 1974

SINCE QUESTIONS ADDRESSED TO OFFEROR DURING COURSE OF NEGOTIATIONS WERE GENERAL AND DID NOT POINT OUT SPECIFIC DEFICIENCIES IN TECHNICAL PROPOSAL, THERE WAS NO MEANINGFUL DISCUSSION WITH OFFEROR AND NO COMPLIANCE WITH ASPR 3-805.3(A) AND 51 COMP. GEN. 431 (1972); THEREFORE, NEGOTIATION SHOULD BE REOPENED WITH ALL OFFERORS WITHIN COMPETITIVE RANGE.

TO DORSETT ELECTRONICS DIVISION, LABARGE INC.:

THE UNITED STATES ARMY ELECTRONICS COMMAND (ECOM), FORT MONMOUTH, NEW JERSEY, ISSUED REQUEST FOR QUOTATIONS (RFQ) DAAB07-73-Q-0274 FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF A PLATOON EARLY WARNING DEVICE (PEWD). THE TECHNICAL PROPOSAL RECEIVED FROM DORSETT ELECTRONICS DIVISION, LABARGE, INC. (DORSETT), WAS FOUND TO BE DEFICIENT IN 14 AREAS. DORSETT WAS PROVIDED AN OPPORTUNITY TO FURNISH CLARIFICATION OF THE TECHNICAL PROPOSAL. AFTER NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN REPRESENTATIVES OF ECOM AND DORSETT, 11 OF THE AREAS HAD BEEN CLARIFIED AND THREE REMAINED UNACCEPTABLE. ECOM THEREUPON REJECTED THE DORSETT PROPOSAL ON THE BASIS OF UNACCEPTABLE RATINGS IN THE EVALUATION CATEGORIES OF MEETING REQUIREMENTS, UNDERSTANDING OF THE PROBLEM, AND DESIGN. FOLLOWING REJECTION OF THE PROPOSAL AND BEFORE ANY AWARD WAS MADE, DORSETT PROTESTED THE REJECTION TO OUR OFFICE.

THE DORSETT PROPOSAL WAS REJECTED BECAUSE:

1. THE PROPOSED DESIGN WOULD NOT PRODUCE A LOGIC IN THE CLASSIFICATION CIRCUIT THAT WOULD RELIABLY DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN PERSONNEL AND VEHICLE DETECTIONS AND NON-TARGET RESPONSES AS REQUIRED BY THE SPECIFICATION;

2. THE PROPOSED DESIGN WOULD NOT PRODUCE A FOOTSTEP PROCESSOR THAT WOULD RELIABLY RECOGNIZE ONLY FOOTSTEP-LIKE SIGNALS AS REQUIRED BY THE SPECIFICATION; AND

3. THE PROPOSED DESIGN WOULD NOT PRODUCE A TYPE I SENSOR THAT WOULD PROVIDE 150 HOURS OF OPERATION AT 32 DEGS F AS REQUIRED BY THE SPECIFICATION.

A REVIEW OF THE RECORD SHOWS THAT THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS WERE PRESENTED TO DORSETT BY ECOM AS PART OF THE 14 POINTS WHICH NEEDED CLARIFICATION BY THE ECOM EVALUATION TEAM AND IT WAS DUE TO THE FAILURE TO PROPERLY CLARIFY THEM THAT THE DORSETT PROPOSAL WAS REJECTED:

"1. SHOW IN MORE DETAIL HOW THE PROPOSED TARGET CLASSIFIER WILL ENHANCE THE CLASSIFICATION CAPABILITY OF PEWD AND KEEP FALSE CLASSIFICATION WITHIN SPECIFICATION LIMITS;

2. SHOW HOW THE PROPOSED FOOTSTEP PROCESSOR WILL MEET BOTH THE DETECTION AND FALSE ALARM REQUIREMENTS;

3. PROVIDE ADDITIONAL BACKUP FOR THE ESTIMATES PROPOSED FOR THE POWER BUDGET FOR ALL THE SUBSYSTEMS OF PEWD."

WHILE THE QUESTIONS DEAL WITH GENERAL AREAS OF THE DORSETT PROPOSAL, THE ECOM EVALUATION TEAM HAD SPECIFIC DEFICIENCIES OF THE PROPOSAL IN MIND WHEN THE GROUP OF QUESTIONS WAS PRESENTED TO DORSETT.

REGARDING THE FIRST REASON FOR REJECTION, A REVIEW OF THE TECHNICAL REPORT SUBMITTED BY ECOM SHOWS THAT THE EVALUATION PERSONNEL BELIEVED THAT THE 50 SECOND TIME DELAY IN CLASSIFICATION LOGIC DID NOT MEET THE SPECIFICATION WHICH REQUIRED A MAXIMUM TIME DELAY OF 2 SECONDS. HOWEVER, DORSETT, IN ITS CORRESPONDENCE TO OUR OFFICE, POINTS OUT THAT IT READ THE SPECIFICATION IN CONJUNCTION WITH OTHER PARTS OF THE SPECIFICATION TO ARRIVE AT THE 50 SECOND TIME PERIOD. IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES, IT SEEMS THAT THE PROBLEM COULD HAVE BEEN AVERTED BY ADVISING DORSETT THAT THE EVALUATION TEAM WAS HAVING DIFFICULTY WITH THE 50 SECOND TIME DELAY RATHER THAN POSING A GENERAL QUESTION REGARDING CLASSIFICATION LOGIC.

THE SECOND REASON FOR REJECTION INVOLVED THE FOOTSTEP PROCESSOR, FROM THE RECORD BEFORE OUR OFFICE, IT APPEARS THAT ECOM HAD SPECIFIC QUESTIONS REGARDING THE OPERATION OF THE PROCESSOR, BUT ONLY ASKED FOR A GENERAL STATEMENT OF DESIGN AND THEORY INSTEAD OF PRESENTING THE ACTUAL PROBLEM THAT AROSE DURING EVALUATION.

LASTLY, ECOM REQUESTED ADDITIONAL BACKUP DATA ON POWER CONSUMPTION. HOWEVER, WHAT APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN THE PROBLEM WAS THE NUMBER OF HOURS OF OPERATION THE BATTERY WOULD FURNISH AT 32 DEGS F.

IN 51 COMP. GEN. 431 (1972), WE ENUNCIATED THE FOLLOWING RULE REGARDING THE CONDUCT OF NEGOTIATIONS:

"IT IS A WELL-ESTABLISHED PRINCIPLE IN NEGOTIATED PROCUREMENT THAT SUCH DISCUSSIONS MUST BE MEANINGFUL AND FURNISH INFORMATION TO ALL OFFERORS WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE AS TO THE AREAS IN WHICH THEIR PROPOSALS ARE DEFICIENT SO THAT COMPETITIVE OFFERORS ARE GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO FULLY SATISFY THE GOVERNMENT'S REQUIREMENTS."

THIS STANDARD OF NEGOTIATION HAS NOW BEEN INCORPORATED IN THE ARMED SERVICES PROCUREMENT REGULATION (ASPR). SECTION 3-805.3(A), WHICH WAS REVISED EFFECTIVE AUGUST 1, 1973, AFTER THE CONDUCT OF THE INSTANT NEGOTIATIONS, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"ALL OFFERORS SELECTED TO PARTICIPATE IN DISCUSSIONS SHALL BE ADVISED OF DEFICIENCIES IN THEIR PROPOSALS AND SHALL BE OFFERED A REASONABLE OPPORTUNITY TO CORRECT OR RESOLVE THE DEFICIENCIES AND TO SUBMIT SUCH PRICE OR COST, TECHNICAL OR OTHER REVISIONS TO THEIR PROPOSALS THAT MAY RESULT FROM THE DISCUSSIONS. A DEFICIENCY IS DEFINED AS THAT PART OF AN OFFEROR'S PROPOSAL WHICH WOULD NOT SATISFY THE GOVERNMENT'S REQUIREMENTS."

BASED ON THE RECORD, "MEANINGFUL" DISCUSSIONS WERE NOT HELD WITH DORSETT. THE TYPES OF QUESTIONS ASKED OF DORSETT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SPECIFICALLY DIRECTED TO THE PROBLEM SO AS TO IDENTIFY THE AREA THAT REQUIRED CLARIFICATION.

ECOM STATES THAT IT PROVIDED DORSETT WITH ALL THE INFORMATION NECESSARY TO PREPARE AN ACCEPTABLE PROPOSAL, SHORT OF "TECHNICAL TRANSFUSION OR LEVELING." HOWEVER, OUR OFFICE FAILS TO SEE, FOR EXAMPLE, WHERE ADVISING AN OFFEROR THAT HIS PROPOSAL IS DEFICIENT IN LOW TEMPERATURE PERFORMANCE OR THAT THE 50 SECOND TIME DELAY APPEARS IMPROPER COULD CONSTITUTE TECHNICAL TRANSFUSION. SPECIFIC DEFICIENCIES IN HIS PROPOSAL MAY AND SHOULD BE POINTED OUT TO AN OFFEROR INITIALLY FOUND TO BE IN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE UNLESS DOING SO WOULD SUGGEST, EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, SOLUTIONS BASED ON THE INGENUITY OF GOVERNMENT TECHNICAL PERSONNEL OR DERIVED FROM COMPETING PROPOSALS. B 179030, JANUARY 24, 1974.

THEREFORE, OUR OFFICE RECOMMENDS THAT NEGOTIATIONS BE REOPENED WITH ALL OFFERORS IN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE TO OVERCOME THE SHORTCOMINGS OF THE PRIOR NEGOTIATIONS.