B-180431, MAY 20, 1974

B-180431: May 20, 1974

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HAD MADE COMMITMENT TO PROSPECTIVE LESSOR WHO BELIEVES IT MADE LOWEST OFFER IS REBUTTED BY RECORD SINCE ALLEGED COMMITMENT WOULD BE INCONSISTENT WITH COMPETITIVE NEGOTIATION PROCEDURES WHEREUNDER ALL PROPOSALS SUBMITTED WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE ARE FOR CONSIDERATION. ALLEGATION THAT THE PROSPECTIVE LESSOR'S BEST AND FINAL OFFER WAS DISCLOSED DURING NEGOTIATIONS IS UNSUPPORTED BY FACTS BECAUSE PROTESTER WAS LAST OFFEROR TO SUBMIT BEST AND FINAL OFFER. AT-4-56 WAS ISSUED ON NOVEMBER 20. GSA WAS LEASING THIS SPACE PURSUANT TO A REQUEST FOR SPACE (STANDARD FORM 81) DATED JULY 24. MISSISSIPPI OFFICE'S LEASE WAS EXPIRING IN 1974. TO ASCERTAIN WHAT SPACE WAS AVAILABLE AND AT WHAT RENTAL RATES.

B-180431, MAY 20, 1974

CONTENTION THAT GSA DURING MARKET SURVEY, HAD MADE COMMITMENT TO PROSPECTIVE LESSOR WHO BELIEVES IT MADE LOWEST OFFER IS REBUTTED BY RECORD SINCE ALLEGED COMMITMENT WOULD BE INCONSISTENT WITH COMPETITIVE NEGOTIATION PROCEDURES WHEREUNDER ALL PROPOSALS SUBMITTED WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE ARE FOR CONSIDERATION. ALSO, ALLEGATION THAT THE PROSPECTIVE LESSOR'S BEST AND FINAL OFFER WAS DISCLOSED DURING NEGOTIATIONS IS UNSUPPORTED BY FACTS BECAUSE PROTESTER WAS LAST OFFEROR TO SUBMIT BEST AND FINAL OFFER.

TO AREALCO, INC.:

SOLICITATION FOR OFFERS NO. AT-4-56 WAS ISSUED ON NOVEMBER 20, 1973, BY THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (GSA) FOR THE LEASING OF 5,050 SQUARE FEET OF OFFICE SPACE IN BILOXI, MISSISSIPPI. GSA WAS LEASING THIS SPACE PURSUANT TO A REQUEST FOR SPACE (STANDARD FORM 81) DATED JULY 24, 1973, FROM THE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION (SBA) WHOSE GULFPORT, MISSISSIPPI OFFICE'S LEASE WAS EXPIRING IN 1974. SBA REQUESTED THAT THE SPACE BE LOCATED IN THE BUSINESS DISTRICT OF EITHER GULFPORT OR BILOXI.

AFTER RECEIPT OF THE REQUEST FOR SPACE, GSA CONDUCTED A MARKET SURVEY ON AUGUST 3-4, 1973, TO ASCERTAIN WHAT SPACE WAS AVAILABLE AND AT WHAT RENTAL RATES. ON SEPTEMBER 3, 1973, LOCAL NEWSPAPER ADVERTISEMENTS WERE PLACED BY GSA IN ORDER TO MAXIMIZE COMPETITION BY REACHING PROSPECTIVE OFFERORS WHO WERE NOT CONTACTED DURING THE MARKET SURVEY. SUBSEQUENTLY, THE SOLICITATION WAS SUSPENDED TO ALLOW GSA TO GIVE FURTHER CONSIDERATION TO WHICH LOCATION, BILOXI OR GULFPORT, WAS BEST SUITED TO THE NEEDS OF THE SBA OFFICE. ON OCTOBER 16-18, 1973, A RESURVEY WAS CONDUCTED IN BOTH GULFPORT AND BILOXI. PURSUANT TO THE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION GAINED DURING THIS SECOND SURVEY, THE DECISION WAS MADE TO LEASE SPACE IN BILOXI.

AS STATED PREVIOUSLY ON NOVEMBER 20, THE ABOVE REFERENCED SOLICITATION WAS ISSUED AND ON NOVEMBER 21, 1973, AN ADVERTISEMENT WAS PLACED IN A BILOXI NEWSPAPER IN ORDER TO SOLICIT PROPOSALS FROM THE GREATEST NUMBER OF OFFERORS.

FOUR OFFERORS SUBMITTED PROPOSALS IN RESPONSE TO THE SOLICITATION. TWO WERE FOUND TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SOLICITATION, GULF NATIONAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY (GULF) AND AREALCO, INC. (AREALCO). ON DECEMBER 17, 1973, GSA REQUESTED THESE OFFERORS TO SUBMIT THEIR BEST AND FINAL OFFERS. THIS IS AS FAR AS THE PROCUREMENT HAS PROGRESSED DUE TO THE PROTEST FILED WITH OUR OFFICE ON JANUARY 14, 1974, BY AREALCO. AWARD IS BEING WITHHELD PENDING THE ISSUANCE OF THIS DECISION.

AREALCO STATES THAT DURING THE MARKET SURVEY IN AUGUST 1973, IT WAS LED TO BELIEVE THAT IT WOULD BE THE SUCCESSFUL OFFEROR AND THAT IT NOW HAS OBTAINED INFORMATION THAT AWARD WILL BE MADE TO GULF, NOTWITHSTANDING ITS BELIEF THAT AREALCO HAS SUBMITTED THE BEST PROPOSAL AT THE LOWEST PRICE AND FURTHER REQUESTS BEING ADVISED OF THE MANNER IN WHICH THE PROPOSALS WERE EVALUATED UNDER THE EVALUATION CRITERIA STATED IN SCHEDULE DD OF THE SOLICITATION.

FROM THE RECORD BEFORE OUR OFFICE, IT APPEARS THAT AREALCO WAS CONTACTED DURING THE SURVEY IN AUGUST AND QUOTED A RENTAL RATE ON CERTAIN SPACE IN ONE OF ITS BUILDINGS TO THE GSA OFFICIAL CONDUCTING THE SURVEY. THERE IS A DISPUTE IN THE RECORD OVER WHAT WAS SAID IN RESPONSE TO THE RATE QUOTE. AREALCO CONTENDS THAT THE GSA OFFICIAL STATED THE SOLICITATION WAS A MERE FORMALITY AND INTIMATED THAT AREALCO WOULD OBTAIN THE LEASE. A STATEMENT FROM THE GSA OFFICIAL SUBMITTED TO OUR OFFICE SHOWS THAT HE STATED THAT IT WAS AN UNUSUALLY GOOD RATE AND THAT AREALCO HAD AN OUTSTANDING FACILITY AND THAT IT WOULD NOT BE NECESSARY FOR AREALCO TO RESPOND TO THE NEWSPAPER ADVERTISEMENT WHICH WOULD APPEAR SUBSEQUENTLY AS THE FIRM WOULD BE SENT A COPY OF THE SOLICITATION AUTOMATICALLY; BUT HE DENIES MAKING ANY COMMITMENT TO AREALCO.

WE DO NOT BELIEVE THE FACTS SHOW THAT ANY COMMITMENT WAS MADE BY A GSA REPRESENTATIVE TO AREALCO DURING THE MARKET SURVEY AND, EVEN ASSUMING, THAT ONE WAS MADE, IT WOULD NOT BE BINDING ON THE GOVERNMENT. THE SPACE REQUIREMENTS ARE TO BE MET UNDER NEGOTIATED COMPETITIVE PROCEDURES WHICH FOLLOW THE PRINCIPLES OF FEDERAL PROCUREMENT REGULATIONS 1.3-805.1. UNDER THESE PRINCIPLES, ORAL OR WRITTEN DISCUSSIONS ARE CONDUCTED WITH ALL RESPONSIBLE OFFERORS WHO SUBMITTED PROPOSALS WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE, PRICE AND FACTORS CONSIDERED. SEE, IN THIS REGARD, PARAGRAPH 10 OF SCHEDULE DD OF THE SOLICITATION. WHEN NEGOTIATIONS ARE CONDUCTED WITH SEVERAL OFFERORS, ALL OFFERORS SELECTED TO PARTICIPATE IN SUCH NEGOTIATIONS SHALL BE AFFORDED AN EQUITABLE OPPORTUNITY TO SUBMIT SUCH PRICE, TECHNICAL OR OTHER REVISIONS AS MAY RESULT FROM THE NEGOTIATIONS. WHERE, AS HERE, GSA'S SPACE REQUIREMENTS ARE COMPETED, ALL RESPONDING OFFERORS ARE ENTITLED TO HAVE THEIR OFFERS EVALUATED IN AN IMPARTIAL AND EQUITABLE MANNER AND NO OFFEROR MAY OBTAIN AN UNDUE ADVANTAGE, NOT CONTEMPLATED NOR AUTHORIZED BY THE SOLICITATION OR THE SELECTION PROCEDURES, TO THE PREJUDICE OF OTHER INTERESTED OFFERORS, BASED SOLELY ON INFORMAL CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN GSA REPRESENTATIVES AND AN INTERESTED OFFEROR.

REGARDING THE REQUEST FOR THE DISCLOSURE OF THE MANNER IN WHICH THE PROPOSALS WERE EVALUATED, A RELEASE OF THIS INFORMATION BEFORE AN AWARD IS MADE IS PROHIBITED UNDER THE PROCEDURES DISCUSSED ABOVE.

CONCERNING AREALCO'S BELIEF THAT AFTER IT SUBMITTED ITS BEST AND FINAL OFFER ON DECEMBER 28, 1973, ANOTHER OFFEROR REDUCED ITS PRICE FURTHER POSSIBLY DUE TO A TRANSMITTAL OF INFORMATION REGARDING AREALCO'S PROPOSAL TO SUCH OFFEROR, THE RECORD SHOWS THAT AREALCO SUBMITTED ITS BEST AND FINAL OFFER 11 DAYS AFTER THE OTHER OFFEROR SUBMITTED ITS BEST AND FINAL OFFER.

ACCORDINGLY, THE PROTEST IS DENIED.