B-183078, APR 24, 1975

B-183078: Apr 24, 1975

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REJECTION OF PROTESTER'S ALTERNATE PROPOSAL - WHICH OFFERED TWO STERILIZERS ON BASIS THAT PAST EXPERIENCE SHOWS ITS UNITS CAN PERFORM TWICE THE WORK OF SUCCESSFUL OFFEROR'S - IS NOT OBJECTIONABLE. CASTLE ARGUES THAT BOTH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND COMMERCIAL USERS HAVE RECOGNIZED THAT ONE CASTLE UNIT CAN PERFORM TWICE THE WORK OF A UNIT SUPPLIED BY THE SUCCESSFUL OFFEROR. IT IS STATED THAT THIS 1:2. CASTLE ALLEGES THAT DSA SHOULD HAVE AMENDED THE RFP TO PROVIDE THAT FOUR CASTLE UNITS COULD BE OFFERED BASED UPON THE 8-HOUR-WORKDAY CONCEPT WHICH CASTLE BELIEVES IS CONTEMPLATED BY THE RFP. AN AWARD WAS MADE TO AMSCO FOR A SYSTEM INCLUDING FOUR WASHER-STERILIZERS AT A LOWER PRICE THAN THE FOUR-UNIT SYSTEM PRICE OFFERED BY THE PROTESTER.

B-183078, APR 24, 1975

STATED NEED TO ASSURE CONTINUED OPERATION OF HOSPITAL STERILIZER SYSTEM IN EVENT OF TEMPORARY BREAKDOWN OF SOME STERILIZER UNITS INDICATES REASONABLE BASIS FOR RFP REQUIREMENT FOR OFFERS OF FOUR STERILIZERS TO HANDLE 16-HOUR DAILY WORKLOAD. THEREFORE, REJECTION OF PROTESTER'S ALTERNATE PROPOSAL - WHICH OFFERED TWO STERILIZERS ON BASIS THAT PAST EXPERIENCE SHOWS ITS UNITS CAN PERFORM TWICE THE WORK OF SUCCESSFUL OFFEROR'S - IS NOT OBJECTIONABLE.

CASTLE COMPANY, DIVISION OF SYBRON CORPORATION:

CASTLE COMPANY, DIVISION OF SYBRON CORPORATION (CASTLE), HAS PROTESTED UNDER REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP) NO. DSA120-75-R-1401, ISSUED BY THE DEFENSE SUPPLY AGENCY (DSA) FOR PROCUREMENT OF A WASHER STERILIZER SYSTEM TO BE INSTALLED AT WALTER REED ARMY MEDICAL CENTER (WRAMC).

IN ESSENCE, CASTLE OBJECTS TO THE REJECTION OF ITS ALTERNATE PROPOSAL, WHICH OFFERED TWO WASHER-STERILIZERS INSTEAD OF FOUR UNITS AS CALLED FOR BY THE RFP. CASTLE ARGUES THAT BOTH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND COMMERCIAL USERS HAVE RECOGNIZED THAT ONE CASTLE UNIT CAN PERFORM TWICE THE WORK OF A UNIT SUPPLIED BY THE SUCCESSFUL OFFEROR, AMSCO SYSTEMS. IT IS STATED THAT THIS 1:2, CASTLE-TO-AMSCO RATIO HAS BEEN RECOGNIZED, FOR INSTANCE, IN A NUMBER OF VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL EQUIPMENT PROCUREMENTS. THUS, TO MAINTAIN A FAIR AND EQUITABLE COMPETITION IN THE PRESENT CASE, CASTLE ALLEGES THAT DSA SHOULD HAVE AMENDED THE RFP TO PROVIDE THAT FOUR CASTLE UNITS COULD BE OFFERED BASED UPON THE 8-HOUR-WORKDAY CONCEPT WHICH CASTLE BELIEVES IS CONTEMPLATED BY THE RFP, OR TWO CASTLE UNITS FOR A 16-HOUR WORKDAY.

DSA REFERRED CASTLE'S OBJECTIONS TO WRAMC, WHICH CONSIDERED AND REJECTED THEM. SUBSEQUENTLY, AN AWARD WAS MADE TO AMSCO FOR A SYSTEM INCLUDING FOUR WASHER-STERILIZERS AT A LOWER PRICE THAN THE FOUR-UNIT SYSTEM PRICE OFFERED BY THE PROTESTER.

IN PART, WRAMC'S RESPONSE WENT TO THE QUESTION OF THE 1:2 RATIO (CONCLUDING THAT IT HAD NOT BEEN FULLY SUBSTANTIATED), AND TO THE QUESTION OF WHETHER THE DESIGN OF THE HOSPITAL FACILITY IN WHICH THE WASHER- STERILIZERS WILL BE UTILIZED WAS BASED UPON THE 8-HOUR-DAY CONCEPT (CONCLUDING THAT IT WAS NOT). CASTLE'S MARCH 7, 1975, LETTER TO OUR OFFICE RESPONDED TO WRAMC'S POSITION ON THESE POINTS, BUT DID NOT RESPOND TO THE FOLLOWING WRAMC STATEMENT:

"THE DETERMINATION OF THE GOVERNMENT'S REQUIREMENT IN THIS CASE WAS NOT ARBITRARY NOR CAPRICIOUS. THE DETERMINATION TO REQUIRE FOUR WASHER STERILIZERS WITH A 16 HOUR AVERAGE DAILY WORKLOAD WAS PREDICATED UPON CAREFUL ANALYSIS OF ANTICIPATED HOSPITAL WORKLOAD, AND REVIEW OF THE FOLLOWING FACTORS:

"A. THE ABILITY TO CONTINUE OPERATING ON A ROUTINE BASIS IN SPITE OF A TEMPORARY BREAKDOWN OF EQUIPMENT IS A MAJOR CONSIDERATION TO THE SURGEON GENERAL. IF ONE UNIT BECOMES INOPERABLE A SYSTEM WHICH UTILIZES FOUR UNITS CAN REMAIN FUNCTIONAL WITH THE REMAINING THREE UNITS UNTIL REPAIRS CAN BE EFFECTED. IF THE CASTLE WASHER STERILIZER SYSTEM (UTILIZING TWO UNITS) WERE PLACED IN OPERATION A BREAKDOWN OF ONE UNIT WOULD INCAPACITATE THE SYSTEM."

WE BELIEVE THAT THE FOREGOING STATEMENT IS INDICATIVE OF A REASONABLE BASIS FOR ESTABLISHING AN RFP REQUIREMENT OF FOUR WASHER-STERILIZERS, AND FOR DECLINING TO ACCEPT CASTLE'S ALTERNATE OFFER OF TWO WASHER STERILIZERS. IN A RECENT DECISION WE NOTED THAT SIMILAR WRAMC CONCERNS REGARDING THE NEED TO MAINTAIN PRODUCTIVE CAPACITY DESPITE BREAKDOWNS OF EQUIPMENT COULD PROVIDE A REASONABLE BASIS FOR ESTABLISHING CERTAIN SPECIAL FEATURES AS MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS OF AN AUTOMATED LAUNDRY SYSTEM. SEE MATTER OF ALLEN AND VICKERS, INC., ET AL., B-181359, DECEMBER 2, 1974, 54 COMP. GEN.

. IN THE SAME DECISION, OBJECTIONS THAT WRAMC'S MINIMUM NEEDS WERE OVERSTATED - ON THE GROUNDS THAT OTHER HOSPITALS AND COMMERCIAL USERS HAD NOT REQUIRED SUCH SPECIAL FEATURES - WERE REJECTED.

FURTHER, WE CANNOT SEE A BASIS FOR ACCEPTANCE OF CASTLE'S SUGGESTION THAT THE RFP SHOULD HAVE SPECIFIED THAT FOUR CASTLE WASHER-STERILIZERS WOULD BE REQUIRED IN THE CONTEXT OF AN 8-HOUR WORKDAY (WHICH, PRESUMABLY, WOULD HAVE REQUIRED AMSCO TO OFFER EIGHT WASHER STERILIZERS). WRAMC HAS INDICATED THAT ACCOMPLISHMENT OF A CERTAIN QUANTITY OF WORK IN A 16-HOUR WORKDAY IS PROPERLY REPRESENTATIVE OF ITS MINIMUM NEEDS, AND THAT A FOUR- UNIT SYSTEM WILL ADEQUATELY ASSURE CONTINUED OPERATION IN SPITE OF BREAKDOWNS. IN THIS LIGHT, THE ACCEPTANCE OF CASTLE'S SUGGESTION - MEANING THAT WRAMC WOULD BE PURCHASING EITHER FOUR CASTLE OR EIGHT AMSCO UNITS - WOULD HAVE RESULTED IN COMPETITION BASED UPON AN OVERSTATEMENT OF MINIMUM NEEDS AND PURCHASE OF EXCESS WASHER-STERILIZER CAPACITY.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, CASTLE'S PROTEST IS DENIED.