B-182321(2), MAY 14, 1975

B-182321(2): May 14, 1975

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THE PRESSURE HULL OF WHICH WAS "RATED BY THE AMERICAN BUREAU OF SHIPPING (ABS) FOR USE AT THE DEPTHS PROPOSED OR THAT COULD BE ENCOUNTERED IN THE COURSE OF THE DIVE.". WE CONCLUDED THAT THE PROTESTER WAS PROPERLY NOT CONSIDERED FOR AWARD IN THE ABSENCE OF A "CLASSIFICATION" BY THE ABS. WHICH WAS THE APPARENT INTENT OF THE WORD "RATED" AS USED IN THE IFB. WE HAVE HAD OCCASION IN THE PAST TO CONSIDER SPECIFICATIONS WHICH UNCONDITIONALLY REQUIRE PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTORS TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THEY HAVE RECEIVED THE APPROVAL OF PRIVATE TESTING ORGANIZATIONS PURSUANT TO STANDARDS PRESCRIBED BY THOSE ORGANIZATIONS. AS IT DOES FROM THE EXCLUSION OF PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTORS WHO IN FACT CONFORM TO THOSE STANDARDS BUT WHO HAVE NOT OBTAINED THE APPROVAL OF THE PRIVATE ORGANIZATION.

B-182321(2), MAY 14, 1975

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

THE SECRETARY OF THE ARMY:

WE REFER TO A LETTER DATED DECEMBER 6, 1974, REFERENCE DAEN-GCC, FROM THE GENERAL COUNSEL, CORPS OF ENGINEERS, FURNISHING A REPORT IN RESPONSE TO THE PROTEST OF ARCTIC MARINE, INC., UNDER IFB NO. DACW67-75 B-0017, ISSUED BY THE SEATTLE DISTRICT.

THE IFB SPECIFICATIONS REQUIRED THE CONTRACTOR TO PERFORM THE UNDERWATER INSPECTION OF A DAM WITH A SUBMERSIBLE, THE PRESSURE HULL OF WHICH WAS "RATED BY THE AMERICAN BUREAU OF SHIPPING (ABS) FOR USE AT THE DEPTHS PROPOSED OR THAT COULD BE ENCOUNTERED IN THE COURSE OF THE DIVE." IN OUR ENCLOSED DECISION OF TODAY, WE CONCLUDED THAT THE PROTESTER WAS PROPERLY NOT CONSIDERED FOR AWARD IN THE ABSENCE OF A "CLASSIFICATION" BY THE ABS, WHICH WAS THE APPARENT INTENT OF THE WORD "RATED" AS USED IN THE IFB.

WE HAVE HAD OCCASION IN THE PAST TO CONSIDER SPECIFICATIONS WHICH UNCONDITIONALLY REQUIRE PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTORS TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THEY HAVE RECEIVED THE APPROVAL OF PRIVATE TESTING ORGANIZATIONS PURSUANT TO STANDARDS PRESCRIBED BY THOSE ORGANIZATIONS. SEE, E.G., MATTER OF JOHNSON SERVICE CO., B-180645, JULY 16, 1974; 33 COMP. GEN. 573 (1954). AS THOSE DECISIONS INDICATE, WE GENERALLY REGARD SUCH SPECIFICATION PROVISIONS AS UNDULY RESTRICTIVE OF COMPETITION.

OUR CONCERN ARISES NOT SO MUCH FROM THE USE OF STANDARDS ESTABLISHED BY A PRIVATE ORGANIZATION, IN THE ABSENCE OF APPROPRIATE GOVERNMENT STANDARDS AND WHEN DEEMED IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT, AS IT DOES FROM THE EXCLUSION OF PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTORS WHO IN FACT CONFORM TO THOSE STANDARDS BUT WHO HAVE NOT OBTAINED THE APPROVAL OF THE PRIVATE ORGANIZATION. WE THEREFORE RECOMMEND THAT IN FUTURE SIMILAR SOLICITATIONS, PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTORS BE PERMITTED TO ESTABLISH CONFORMANCE OF THEIR VESSELS TO ABS CLASSIFICATION STANDARDS EITHER THROUGH ABS CERTIFICATION OR THROUGH INDEPENDENTLY-PRODUCED EVIDENCE. REQUEST TO BE ADVISED OF STEPS TAKEN PURSUANT TO THIS RECOMMENDATION.