B-187197, OCTOBER 8, 1976

B-187197: Oct 8, 1976

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OFFERORS ARE ON NOTICE THAT MORE THAN MINIMUM (GENERAL) RESPONSE IS REQUIRED AND OFFEROR FAILING TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE INFORMATION WITH RESPECT TO EACH AREA RUNS RISK OF PROPOSAL REJECTION. 2. WHOSE INITIAL PROPOSAL WAS RATED SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER THAN PROTESTER'S AND INCLUDED WITHIN COMPETITIVE RANGE. WAS ASKED TO REVISE ITS PROPOSAL IN SOME AREAS IN WHICH PROTESTER WAS FOUND DEFICIENT. DOES NOT ESTABLISH THAT PROTESTER WAS TREATED UNFAIRLY. 4. PROTESTER'S ALLEGATIONS THAT "INSIDER" INFORMATION REGARDING REQUIREMENT FOR DETAILED PROPOSALS WAS IMPROPERLY PROVIDED TO COMPETITORS DURING PRE-PROPOSAL CONFERENCE AND THAT ITS PROPOSAL WAS NOT EVALUATED IN A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL MANNER. WHICH ARE BOTH DENIED BY CONTRACTING OFFICER.

B-187197, OCTOBER 8, 1976

1. WHERE SOLICITATION LISTS BASIC EVALUATION CRITERIA AND WARNS OFFERORS TO COMPLETELY ADDRESS ALL EVALUATION AREAS, OFFERORS ARE ON NOTICE THAT MORE THAN MINIMUM (GENERAL) RESPONSE IS REQUIRED AND OFFEROR FAILING TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE INFORMATION WITH RESPECT TO EACH AREA RUNS RISK OF PROPOSAL REJECTION. 2. PROPOSAL CONTAINING NUMBER OF INFORMATIONAL DEFICIENCIES OF "MAJOR" PROPORTION RENDERS PROPOSAL MATERIALLY DEFICIENT SINCE IT COULD NOT BE MADE ACCEPTABLE EXCEPT BY MAJOR REVISIONS WHICH WOULD, IN EFFECT, CONSTITUTE COMPLETELY REVISED OFFER. 3. FACT THAT ONE OFFEROR, WHOSE INITIAL PROPOSAL WAS RATED SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER THAN PROTESTER'S AND INCLUDED WITHIN COMPETITIVE RANGE, WAS ASKED TO REVISE ITS PROPOSAL IN SOME AREAS IN WHICH PROTESTER WAS FOUND DEFICIENT, DOES NOT ESTABLISH THAT PROTESTER WAS TREATED UNFAIRLY. 4. PROTESTER'S ALLEGATIONS THAT "INSIDER" INFORMATION REGARDING REQUIREMENT FOR DETAILED PROPOSALS WAS IMPROPERLY PROVIDED TO COMPETITORS DURING PRE-PROPOSAL CONFERENCE AND THAT ITS PROPOSAL WAS NOT EVALUATED IN A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL MANNER, WHICH ARE BOTH DENIED BY CONTRACTING OFFICER, ARE NOT SUBSTANTIATED BY RECORD AND PROVIDE NO BASIS FOR CONCLUSION THAT PROTESTER WAS TREATED UNFAIRLY.

SERVRITE INTERNATIONAL, LTD.:

SERVRITE INTERNATIONAL, LTD. (SERVRITE) PROTESTS THE REJECTION OF ITS TECHNICAL PROPOSAL AS OUTSIDE THE COMPETITIVE RANGE BY THE NAVAL REGIONAL PROCUREMENT OFFICER (NRPO), NAPLES, ITALY, UNDER REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP) N68171-76-R-0122. THE RFP SOLICITED PROPOSALS TO SATISFY THE NAVY'S (SHORE BASED AND FLEET) REQUIREMENTS FOR FILLED MILK AND RELATED DAIRY PRODUCTS AT THE NAVAL STATION IN ROTA, SPAIN AND THE NAVAL TRAINING CENTER IN KENITRA, MOROCCO. IN ADDITION, THE RFP REQUIRED THE INSTALLATION OF CERTAIN NEW DAIRY EQUIPMENT TO REPLACE THE EXISTING EQUIPMENT AT THE ROTA FACILITY.

IN RESPONSE TO THE SOLICITATION, PROPOSALS WERE RECEIVED FROM SERVRITE, FOREMOST INTERNATIONAL, AND OLD DOMINION DAIRY PRODUCTS, INC. THE TECHNICAL PROPOSALS WERE FORWARDED TO A SOURCE SELECTION ELECTION BOARD (SSEB) FOR EVALUATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RFP CRITERIA. THE SSEB IN ITS REPORT DATED JULY 22, 1976, TO A SOURCE SELECTION ADVISORY COMMITTEE (SSAC), WHOSE FUNCTION IT WAS TO REVIEW THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE SSEB, DETERMINED THAT OUT OF THE THREE PROPOSALS RECEIVED ONLY THE TECHNICAL PROPOSAL SUBMITTED BY SERVRITE WAS CONSIDERED UNACCEPTABLE. THE RECORD FURTHER INDICATES THAT THE SSEB EXAMINED THE MERITS AND DEFICIENCIES OF SERVRITE'S PROPOSAL TO DETERMINE WHETHER IT WAS REASONABLY SUSCEPTIBLE OF BEING MADE ACCEPTABLE FOR AWARD THROUGH DISCUSSION. AFTER SUCH EXAMINATION, THE SSEB CONCLUDED THAT THE PROPOSAL WAS SO TECHNICALLY DEFICIENT THAT THERE WAS NO BASIS FOR DISCUSSIONS AND RECOMMENDED THAT NEGOTIATIONS BE HELD ONLY WITH THE TWO REMAINING OFFERORS.

THE SSAC REVIEWED THE NARRATIVE FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE SSEB AND PERFORMED ITS OWN EVALUATION (USING AN ALTERNATE METHOD OF POINT ASSIGNMENT) OF THE THREE TECHNICAL PROPOSALS, IN ORDER TO INSURE THAT THE SSEB'S EVALUATION (1) CLEARLY IDENTIFIED THE DEFICIENT AREAS IN THE OFFERORS' PROPOSALS, (2) INDICATED WHETHER MAJOR OR MINOR REVISIONS WERE NECESSARY TO BRING THE AREAS OF DEFICIENCY TO AN ACCEPTABLE LEVEL AND (3) RATED EACH PROPOSAL WITHIN THE CONFINES OF THE EVALUATION CRITERIA. THE SSAC'S OWN ANALYSIS REVEALED THAT SERVRITE'S PROPOSAL COULD NOT BE IMPROVED WITHOUT A MAJOR REVISION, THUS LEADING IT TO CONCLUDE THAT THE TECHNICAL EVALUATION PERFORMED BY SSEB FULLY SUPPORTED THE RATINGS OF UNACCEPTABLE FOR SERVRITE AND ACCEPTABLE FOR OLD DOMINION AND FOREMOST. THE SSAC (IN ITS LETTER OF JULY 22, 1976) REPORTED TO THE SOURCE SELECTION AUTHORITY (SSA) ITS FULL CONCURRENCE WITH THE SSEB'S FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ALONG WITH ITS OWN RECOMMENDATION THAT WITH SSA'S APPROVAL, THE COMPETITIVE RANGE BE COMPOSED OF ONLY OLD DOMINION AND FOREMOST. BY LETTER OF THAT SAME DAY, THE SSA NOTIFIED THE CONTRACTING OFFICER OF HIS APPROVAL OF THE ABOVE FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS AND INSTRUCTED THAT NEGOTIATIONS BE IMMEDIATELY COMMENCED WITH THE TWO REMAINING OFFERORS. ON AUGUST 3, 1976, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER INFORMED SERVRITE THAT ITS PROPOSAL WAS TECHNICALLY UNACCEPTABLE AND WOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE FOR PURPOSES OF FURTHER DISCUSSIONS.

UPON ITS RECEIPT OF THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S LETTER OF AUGUST 11, SERVRITE IMMEDIATELY PROTESTED THE DISQUALIFICATION OF ITS PROPOSAL TO THAT SAME CONTRACTING OFFICER. BY TELEGRAM OF AUGUST 12, 1976, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER DENIED SERVRITE'S PROTEST, STATING THAT HIS ORIGINAL POSITION REGARDING THE TECHNICAL UNACCEPTABILITY OF THE OFFEROR'S PROPOSAL "REMAINS UNCHANGED." SERVRITE FILED THE INSTANT PROTEST WITH OUR OFFICE ON AUGUST 16, 1976. ON AUGUST 18, 1976, THE NAVY WAS NOTIFIED BY OUR OFFICE THAT A PROTEST WAS FILED AND THAT PENDING ITS RECEIPT OF THE ADDITIONAL DETAILS REQUESTED OF THE PROTESTER (BY LETTER OF THAT SAME DATE), A DOCUMENTED REPORT RESPONSIVE TO THE PROTEST WOULD BE REQUIRED. BY LETTER OF AUGUST 23, 1976, SERVRITE INFORMED OUR OFFICE THAT ON AUGUST 20, 1976, IT FILED WITH THE CONTRACTING OFFICER A SUPPLEMENTAL TECHNICAL PROPOSAL CURING THE ALLEGED DEFICIENCIES IN ITS ORIGINAL PROPOSAL ALONG WITH A BEST AND FINAL OFFER REQUESTING THAT ITS PROPOSAL BE REINSTATED AND THAT THE NAVY CONSIDER ITS OFFER DURING THE FINAL NEGOTIATIONS FOR AWARD. IN VIEW OF THIS ACTION, SERVRITE REQUESTED THAT OUR OFFICE EXTEND THE TIME FOR FILING THE REQUESTED ADDITIONAL DETAILED STATEMENT ON ITS GROUND FOR PROTEST (ORIGINALLY DUE ON AUGUST 30, 1976) TO AND INCLUDING 5 WORKING DAYS FROM THE RECEIPT OF THE NAVY'S RESPONSE TO ITS SUBMISSION OF AUGUST 20, 1976. THIS REQUEST WAS GRANTED.

THE NAVY INFORMED SERVRITE ON AUGUST 31, 1976, THAT BECAUSE THE PROTESTER'S INITIAL PROPOSAL WAS UNACCEPTABLE, IT WOULD NOT CONSIDER THE SUPPLEMENTAL TECHNICAL PROPOSAL AND THAT AWARD OF THE SUBJECT CONTRACT WOULD BE MADE AS ORIGINALLY CONTEMPLATED ON SEPTEMBER 1, 1976, NOTWITHSTANDING THE PROTEST WITH OUR OFFICE. THAT SAME DAY, SERVRITE FILED SUIT IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (SERVRITE INTERNATIONAL LTD. V. JOHN TARPEY, ET AL., CIVIL ACTION NO. 76-1616) SEEKING TO ENJOIN ANY AWARD PENDING OUR DECISION IN THIS MATTER. ON SEPTEMBER 1, 1976, AFTER ORAL ARGUMENT, THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT ISSUED A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION ENJOINING THE NAVY FROM ENTERING INTO A CONTRACT TO PROVIDE THE REQUIRED FILLED MILK AND MILK BY- PRODUCTS AT THE ABOVE-MENTIONED NAVAL FACILITIES UNTIL 3 DAYS AFTER OUR OFFICE ISSUES A DECISION ON THE PROTEST. THE GOVERNMENT'S APPEAL OF THAT DISTRICT COURT ACTION IS CURRENTLY PENDING.

THE NAVY SUBMITTED ITS REPORT ON SEPTEMBER 8, 1976. ON SEPTEMBER 9, 1976, IN ACCORDANCE WITH ITS AGREEMENT WITH OUR OFFICE, SERVRITE SUBMITTED A BRIEF (A COPY WAS FURNISHED TO THE NAVY) DETAILING THE BASIS FOR ITS PROTEST. AT THE REQUEST OF SERVRITE, AND PURSUANT TO SECTION 20.7 OF OUR BID PROTEST PROCEDURES (4 C.F.R. 20.7 (1976)), A CONFERENCE ON THE PROTEST WAS HELD IN OUR OFFICE ON SEPTEMBER 14, 1976, WHICH WAS ATTENDED BY REPRESENTATIVES OF SERVRITE, FOREMOST, OLD DOMINION, AND THE NAVY. AFTER THE CONFERENCE, ALL PARTIES WERE PERMITTED TO SUBMIT COMMENTS ON THE PROTEST, THE LAST OF WHICH WERE RECEIVED IN OUR OFFICE ON SEPTEMBER 22, 1976.

ALTHOUGH IT IS THE PRACTICE OF OUR OFFICE NOT TO RENDER A DECISION WHERE THE ISSUES INVOLVED ARE LIKELY TO BE DISPOSED OF IN LITIGATION BEFORE A COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION, SEE, E.G., NARTRON CORPORATION, 53 COMP.GEN. 730 (1974), 74-1 CPD 154, WE WILL CONSIDER SERVRITE'S PROTEST SINCE THE COURT DESIRES AND EXPECTS OUR DECISION ON THE PROTEST. 4 C.F.R. 20.10 (1976); DATA TEST CORPORATION, 54 COMP.GEN. 715 (1975), 75-1 CPD 138.

SERVRITE'S PROPOSAL WAS REJECTED BECAUSE THE NAVY REGARDED IT AS INCOMPLETE, LACKING IN SUFFICIENT DETAIL, REPRESENTING ONLY A "VERY SUPERFICIAL APPROACH," INDICATING "A CERTAIN LACK OF PROFESSIONALISM," AND GIVING "A NEGATIVE IMPRESSION ON THE OFFEROR'S APPARENT LEVEL OF COMPETENCE TO SATISFACTORILY PERFORM THIS CONTRACT."

SERVRITE, ON THE OTHER HAND, CONTENDS THAT THERE IS NO REASONABLE BASIS FOR ITS EXCLUSION FROM THE COMPETITIVE RANGE AND DISCUSSIONS. SPECIFICALLY, SERVRITE STATES THAT THE NAVY'S DISQUALIFICATION OF ITS TECHNICAL PROPOSAL, ON THE BASIS THAT THE PROPOSAL WAS INCOMPLETE BY NOT RESPONDING TO THE RFP'S REQUIREMENT FOR "DETAILED" PLANS, PROGRAMS, SCHEDULES, AND DATA, WAS ARBITRARY AND CAPRICIOUS SINCE THERE WAS NO PROVISION IN THE RFP REQUIRING THE SUBMISSION OF SUCH A DETAILED OR ELABORATE PROPOSAL. WHILE OFFERORS WERE REQUIRED TO SUBMIT THEIR PROPOSED PLANS, PROGRAMS, AND SCHEDULES FOR THE AREAS ADDRESSED BY THE EVALUATION CRITERIA, SERVRITE CONTENDS THERE WAS NO RFP REQUIREMENT FOR ANY DEGREE OF ELABORATION, SPECIFICITY OR DETAIL AND THEREFORE, IT WAS REASONABLE FOR IT TO ASSUME THAT THE GOVERNMENT WAS ONLY INTERESTED IN THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF EACH. SERVRITE STATES THAT THE ROUTINE NATURE OF THE CONTRACTUAL SERVICE TO BE PERFORMED, THE FACT THAT RFP PARAGRAPH D-5 SPECIFIED THAT AWARD WOULD BE MADE TO THE LOWEST PRICED TECHNICALLY ACCEPTABLE OFFEROR WITHOUT CONSIDERATION OF TECHNICAL/COST TRADE-OFFS, AND PRIOR PROCUREMENTS OF A SIMILAR NATURE IN WHICH PROPOSALS NO MORE DETAILED THAN ITS PRESENT PROPOSAL WERE EITHER ACCEPTED FOR AWARD OR THE SUBJECT OF NEGOTIATIONS, LED IT TO BELIEVE THAT THE NAVY WAS NOT REQUIRING THE SUBMISSION OF AN ELABORATE PROPOSAL.

SERVRITE THEREFORE TAKES THE POSITION THAT WHILE THE CONTRACTING OFFICER MAY HAVE CONTEMPLATED THE SUBMISSION OF A VERY DETAILED PROPOSAL, AS INDICATED BY ORAL REPRESENTATIONS TO THE TWO OFFERORS PRESENT AT THE PRE- PROPOSAL CONFERENCE (SERVRITE DID NOT ATTEND THE CONFERENCE AND CONTENDS THAT AS A RESULT ITS COMPETITORS WERE PROVIDED WITH "INSIDER" INFORMATION BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER) OF THE "REQUIREMENT" THAT THEIR RESPECTIVE PROPOSALS INCLUDE DETAILED AND SPECIFIC DISCUSSIONS AND EXPLANATION OF THE AREAS COVERED BY THE EVALUATION CRITERIA, SERVRITE CANNOT BE CHARGED WITH NOTICE OF THAT FACT AND ITS FAILURE TO SUBMIT A VERY DETAILED PROPOSAL SHOULD NOT AND/OR LEGALLY COULD NOT BE THE BASIS FOR EVALUATING AND DISQUALIFYING ITS PROPOSAL FROM THE COMPETITIVE RANGE. SERVRITE FURTHER CHALLENGES THE NAVY'S FINDINGS THAT THE ALLEGED DEFICIENCIES IN ITS PROPOSAL WERE "MAJOR" WHICH COULD NOT BE READILY CORRECTED. SERVRITE ASSERTS THAT ANY DEFICIENCIES IN ITS PROPOSAL WERE MINOR AND INFORMATIONAL IN NATURE AND EASILY CORRECTABLE BY THE SUBMISSION OF A SUPPLEMENTAL PROPOSAL.

A CONTRACTING AGENCY MAY EXCLUDE A PROPOSAL AS SUBMITTED FROM THE COMPETITIVE RANGE FOR "INFORMATIONAL" DEFICIENCIES WHEN THOSE DEFICIENCIES ARE SO MATERIAL AS TO PRECLUDE ANY POSSIBILITY OF UPGRADING THE PROPOSAL TO AN ACCEPTABLE LEVEL EXCEPT THROUGH MAJOR REVISIONS AND ADDITIONS WHICH WOULD BE TANTAMOUNT TO THE SUBMISSION OF ANOTHER PROPOSAL. 53 COMP.GEN. 1 (1973); 52 ID. 382, 386 (1972); 52 ID. 865 (1973). IN DETERMINING WHETHER ALLEGEDLY "INFORMATIONAL" DEFICIENCIES IN A SUBMITTED PROPOSAL ARE OF SUCH NATURE THAT AN AGENCY, WITHIN THE REASONABLE EXERCISE OF ITS DISCRETION, MAY EXCLUDE THAT PROPOSAL FROM THE COMPETITIVE RANGE, WE HAVE, AT TIMES, LOOKED AT THE FOLLOWING FACTORS: (1) HOW DEFINITELY THE RFP HAS CALLED FOR THE DETAILED INFORMATION, THE OMISSION OF WHICH WAS RELIED ON BY THE AGENCY FOR EXCLUDING A PROPOSAL FROM THE COMPETITIVE RANGE, 53 COMP.GEN. 1, SUPRA; MEI-CHARLTON, INC., B-179165, FEBRUARY 11, 1974, 74-1 CPD 61; MOXON, INCORPORATED/SRC DIVISION, B-179160, MARCH 13, 1974, 74-1 CPD 134; (2) THE NATURE OF THE "INFORMATIONAL" DEFICIENCIES, E.G., WHETHER THEY TENDED TO SHOW THAT THE OFFEROR DID NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT IT WAS REQUIRED TO DO UNDER THE CONTRACT OR MERELY MADE THE PROPOSAL INFERIOR BUT NOT UNACCEPTABLE, SEE 47 COMP.GEN. 29 (1967); MEI-CHARLTON, SUPRA; (3) THE SCOPE AND RANGE OF THE PROPOSAL "INFORMATIONAL" DEFICIENCIES, E.G., WHETHER THE OFFEROR HAD TO ESSENTIALLY REWRITE ITS PROPOSAL TO CORRECT THE DEFICIENCIES, SEE MEI-CHARLTON, INC., SUPRA; MOXON, SUPRA; AND (4) WHETHER A DEFICIENT BUT REASONABLY CORRECTABLE PROPOSAL REPRESENTED A SIGNIFICANT COST SAVINGS, 47 COMP.GEN. 29 (1967); EG&G, INC., EDUCATION SYSTEMS DIVISION, B-182848, MAY 6, 1975, 75-1 CPD 279.

APPLYING THESE FACTORS TO THE EVALUATION, WE FIND THAT THE NAVY'S DECISION TO EXCLUDE SERVRITE'S PROPOSAL FROM THE COMPETITIVE RANGE HAD A REASONABLE BASIS.

FIRST OF ALL, WE BELIEVE THE RFP CLEARLY REQUIRED SOMETHING MORE THAN A MINIMUM RESPONSE FROM OFFERORS. PARAGRAPH D-3 OF THE RFP ADVISED OFFERORS THAT "SUBSTANTIVE PROPOSALS ARE DESIRED AND THOSE WHICH MERELY PARAPHRASE THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS WILL BE * * * " UNACCEPTABLE. OFFERORS WERE ALSO CAUTIONED TO COMPLETELY ADDRESS ALL AREAS OF THE SOLICITATION, IN PARTICULAR THE AREAS ENCOMPASSED BY THE EVALUATION FACTORS, AND WERE INFORMAED THAT DATA, WHETHER PREVIOUSLY SUBMITTED OR PRESUMED TO BE KNOWN BY THE GOVERNMENT, WOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED PART OF THE PROPOSAL UNLESS PHYSICALLY INCORPORATED THEREIN. THE EVALUATION FACTORS WERE SET FORTH IN PARAGRAPH D-5 AS FOLLOWS:

"B. EACH PROPOSAL MUST ADDRESS THE FOUR AREAS DELINEATED BELOW. INCOMPLETE PROPOSAL SHALL HAVE A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON THE EVALUATION OF THAT PROPOSAL INASMUCH AS THE OMISSION OF THE REQUIRED INFORMATION IMPLIES A DEFICIENCY OF SKILLS, EXPERIENCE, RESOURCES, ETC., IN THE AREA FOR WHICH THE INFORMATION IS REQUESTED. PROPOSALS SHALL BE EVALUATED IN THE FOLLOWING DESCENDING ORDER OF IMPORTANCE:

(1) PROPOSED ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES:

(A) MANNING CHART SHOWING JOB CLASSIFICATIONS OF ALL SPANISH & MOROCCAN LABOR, IF ANY, WITH RESUME OF KEY EMPLOYEES

(B) OFFEROR'S PROPOSED EQUIPMENT

(C) OFFEROR'S PROGRAM FOR PROPER CONSERVATION AND USAGE OF GOVERNMENT- FURNISHED EQUIPMENT AND UTILITIES

(D) SCHEDULE SHOWING HOW ESTIMATED DAILY PRODUCTION AND MAXIMUM PRODUCTION, WHEN NECESSARY, WILL BE EFFICIENTLY MAINTAINED. NOTE: THE MILK PLANT HOURS OF OPERATION CAN BE TWENTY-FOUR HOURS A DAY, SEVEN (7) DAYS A WEEK.

(E) OFFEROR'S MAINTENANCE INCLUDING PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE, WITH MAINTENANCE LOG, REPLACEMENT PARTS AND CLEANING SANITATION PROGRAM. (F) FLOOR PLAN OF ALL EQUIPMENT TO BE USED ON THE CONTRACT.

(2) DOCUMENTATION OF PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE WITH U.S. GOVERNMENT AND COMMERCIAL FIRMS FOR SIMILAR SUPPLIES OR SERVICES.

(3) PHASE-IN TIME REQUIRED TO MEET GUARANTEED PRODUCTION INCLUDING IMPLEMENTATION PROGRAM FOR:

(A) REMOVAL OF GOVERNMENT-FURNISHED PROPERTY TO BE REPLACED

(B) OFFEROR'S EQUIPMENT LEAD TIME

(C) OFFEROR'S EQUIPMENT INSTALLATION AND PHASE-IN TIME

(4) RAW MATERIALS TO BE USED, THEIR SOURCES, LEAD TIME, ORDERING AND INVENTORY PROCEDURES." WE THINK THE CLEAR IMPORT OF THIS LANGUAGE IS THAT A DETAILED TECHNICAL EVALUATION WAS TO BE PERFORMED, THAT OFFERORS WERE EXPECTED TO PROVIDE SUFFICIENT INFORMATION IN THEIR PROPOSALS WITH RESPECT TO EACH EVALUATION AREA TO PERMIT AN EFFECTIVE EVALUATION AND THAT PROPOSALS CONTAINING INSUFFICIENT INFORMATION WOULD BE REGARDED AS DEFICIENT. IN OTHER WORDS, A MERE "PARROTING" BACK OR GENERAL RESPONSE TO RFP REQUIREMENTS, WITH NO DETAILS ON HOW THE REQUIREMENTS WOULD BE MET, WOULD NOT BE REGARDED AS A SATISFACTORY RESPONSE. THUS, THIS CASE IS READILY DISTINGUISHABLE FROM MOXON INCORPORATED/SRC DIVISION, SURA, THE PRINCIPAL CASE RELIED ON BY SERVRITE, SINCE IN THAT CASE THERE WAS NO RFP REQUIREMENT FOR A DETAILED SUBMISSION.

SECONDLY, OUR REVIEW INDICATES THAT SERVRITE'S PROPOSAL CONTAINED ONLY THE BRIEFEST OF INFORMATION AND WWS REGARDED AS UNACCEPTABLE FOR THAT REASON. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE MAJOR DEFICIENCIES WHICH THE SSEB FOUND IN SERVRITE'S PROPOSAL TOGETHER WITH SERVRITE'S RESPONSES AND OUR OBSERVATIONS (THE NUMBERS CORRESPOND TO THOSE USED IN RFP PARAGRAPH D 5):

1. PROPOSED ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES:

(A)SSEB - SERVRITE DID NOT PROVIDE RESUMES OF ITS KEY PERSONNEL OR INDICATE SPECIFIC JOB QUALIFICATIONS, I.E., TRAINING, BACKGROUND, OTHER THAN TO STATE THAT ITS PRINCIPAL EMPLOYEES HAVE EXTENSIVE JOB EXPERIENCE WITH THE COMPANY.

SERVRITE'S RESPONSE - SERVRITE CONTENDS THAT SINCE ITS PROPOSAL INDICATED THAT EIGHT OF ITS PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES FOR ROTA HAD PREVIOUSLY WORKED IN ITS EMPLOY AND ALL OF THE PROPOSED EMPLOYEES FOR KENITRA ARE CURRENTLY THERE WORKING FOR SERVRITE, ALL OF WHICH WILL BE RETAINED AND ARE WELL KNOWN TO THE CONTRACTING OFFICER, THERE WAS NO NEED FOR ANY ADDITIONAL RESUMES. IN THIS REGARD, SERVRITE ASSERTS THAT SINCE SPANISH LAW REQUIRES IT TO REHIRE THE EXPERIENCED WORKERS CURRENTLY EMPLOYED AT THE ROTA FACILITY (BY THE INCUMBENT CONTRACTOR), ITS PROPOSAL EFFECTIVELY IDENTIFIED THE CURRENT EMPLOYEES AT EACH FACILITY AS ITS PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEES, THUS SATISFYING ITS OBLIGATION TO IDENTIFY KEY EMPLOYEES AMONG THE SPANISH AND MOROCCAN LABOR FORCE.

THE SOLICITATION SPECIFICALLY WARNED OFFERORS THAT INFORMATION PREVIOUSLY SUBMITTED OR PRESUMED TO BE KNOWN BY THE GOVERNMENT WOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED UNLESS INCORPORATED IN THE PROPOSAL. THE RESUME REQUIREMENT INDICATES THAT INFORMATION CONCERNING THE EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATION OF THE OFFEROR'S KEY EMPLOYEES, AND NOT JUST THEIR IDENTITIES, WAS DESIRED FOR EVALUATION OF THE CAPABILITIES OF THE PROPOSED STAFF. SERVRITE, HOWEVER, ONLY LISTED THE EMPLOYEE POSITIONS (SUCH AS MANAGER) AND DID NOT EVEN INCLUDE THE IDENTITIES OF THOSE IT PROPOSED TO UTILIZE IN THOSE POSITIONS. SERVRITE MERELY STATED THAT ITS PROPOSED EMPLOYEED "HAVE EXTENSIVE EXPERIENCE WITH OUR COMPANY."

(B) SSEB - ALTHOUGH SERVRITE OFFERED TO SUPPLY THE EQUIPMENT SUGGESTED BY THE GOVERNMENT'S TECHNICAL EXPERT, ITS PROPOSAL DID NOT INCLUDE DESCRIPTIVE LITERATURE FOR THE EQUIPMENT. SERVRITE ALSO FAILED TO DEMONSTRATE AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE SYSTEM AS INDICATED BY THE LACK OF PRODUCTION/FLOW CHARTS, SCHEMATICS, FLOOR PLANS, AND INSTALLATION PLANS.

SERVRITE'S RESPONSE - SERVRITE STATES THAT PARAGRAPH D-5 DID NOT SPECIFY THE REQUIREMENT FOR THE SUBMISSION OF DESCRIPTIVE LITERATURE, IN PARTICULAR THE MATERIALS WHICH PROVIDED THE BASIS FOR THE NAVY'S DOWNGRADING OF ITS PROPOSAL.

THE EVALUATION FACTOR ITSELF DID NOT EXPLICITLY SPECIFY A REQUIREMENT FOR SUBMISSION OF LITERATURE. HOWEVER, PARAGRAPH C-14 OF THE RFP "REQUIREMENT FOR DESCRIPTIVE LITERATURE" DID REQUIRE THAT OFFERORS SUBMIT DESCRIPTIVE LITERATURE "AS SPECIFIED" IN THE RFP. PARAGRAPH C-15 PROVIDED THAT WITH REFERENCE TO PARAGRAPH C-14, SCHEMATICS, DRAWINGS, MANUFACTURERS' BOOKLETS AND INSTRUCTIONS AND OPERATING MANUALS FOR THE PROPOSED EQUIPMENT WERE TO BE SUBMITTED. THUS, WE THINK IT IS CLEAR THAT THIS RFP DID SPECIFY A DESCRIPTIVE LITERATURE REQUIREMENT. FURTHERMORE, WE THINK IT IS OBVIOUS THAT A MERE LISTING OF EQUIPMENT, WITHOUT SOME DESCRIPTIVE DATA, WOULD NOT BE SUFFICIENT TO PERMIT AN EFFECTIVE EVALUATION OF PROPOSED EQUIPMENT, PARTICULARLY IN VIEW OF THE WARNING IN THE RFP THAT NO PRIOR KNOWLEDGE ON THE PART OF THE NAVY SHOULD BE ASSUMED.

(C) SSEB - SERVRITE'S PROPOSAL CONTAINED NO SPECIFIC PROGRAM OR APPROACH FOR THE CONSERVATION OF POWER, LIGHT, HEAT, OR REFRIGERATION.

SERVRITE'S RESPONSE - SERVRITE STATES THAT THE RFP DID NOT REQUIRE A "SPECIFIC PROGRAM OR APPROACH" FOR THE CONSERVATION OF GOVERNMENT FURNISHED UTILITIES, BUT, TO THE EXTENT THAT THE RFP IDENTIFIED A SPECIFIC PROBLEM, NAMELY THE SHORTAGE OF WATER AT THE ROTA FACILITY, ITS PROPOSAL SPECIFICALLY RESPONDED TO THIS PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCE AND OUTLINES ITS PLAN FOR CONSERVATION OF THE LIMITED WATER SUPPLY.

SERVRITE'S PROPOSAL RECOGNIZES THE WATER SHORTAGE AT ROTA AND GIVES A GENERAL RESPONSE AS TO HOW IT INTENDS TO DEAL WITH THAT PROBLEM; HOWEVER, THE PROPOSAL DOES NOT CONTAIN ANY PROGRAM FOR CONSERVING OTHER UTILITIES. THE EVALUATION FACTOR, WHICH OFFERORS WERE REQUIRED TO ADDRESS, CLEARLY ENCOMPASSED MORE THAN WATER CONSERVATION.

(D) SSEB - SERVRITE PRESENTED A GENERAL PRODUCTION PROGRAM WHICH DID NOT DEMONSTRATE THAT THE GOVERNMENT'S STATED REQUIREMENTS FOR PRODUCTION PER 8 -HOUR SHIFT COULD BE OBTAINED.

SERVRITE'S RESPONSE - SERVRITE ASSERTS THAT THE STATEMENTS IN ITS PROPOSAL TO THE EFFECT THAT THE GOVERNMENT'S REQUIREMENTS CAN BE MET AT BOTH ROTA AND KENITRA WITH THE EXISTING EQUIPMENT AND THE NEW EQUIPMENT TO BE INSTALLED AT ROTA, ALONG WITH ITS "MINUTE BY MINUTE PRODUCTION SCHEDULE" FOR THE ROTA FACILITY, CLEARLY DEMONSTRATES ITS CAPACITY TO MEET THE NAVY'S DAILY AND MAXIMUM PRODUCTION REQUIREMENTS.

THE NAVY ASKED FOR MORE THAN A SCHEDULE. THE NAVY'S CONCERN, AS EXPRESSED IN THE EVALUATION FACTOR, WAS THE EFFICIENT MAINTENANCE OF DAILY AND MAXIMUM PRODUCTION REQUIREMENTS. SERVRITE'S BARE CLAIM OF ABILITY TO SATISFY THE REQUIREMENTS, ALONG WITH ITS SCHEDULE CONSISTING OF ONLY A BREAKDOWN OF THE AMOUNT OF TIME TO BE SPENT EACH DAY (BOTH FOR DAILY AND MAXIMUM PRODUCTION) FOR THE VARIOUS QUANTITIES OF MILK TO BE PRODUCED, IS A MUCH TOO GENERAL RESPONSE WHICH DOES NOT PROVIDE THE NAVY WITH SUFFICIENT INFORMATION TO EVALUATE HOW WELL ITS REQUIREMENTS WOULD BE SATISFIED BY SERVRITE.

(E) SSEB - SERVRITE'S PROPOSED MAINTENANCE PROGRAM DID NOT ADDRESS PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE. THE GENERAL STATEMENT IN THE PROPOSAL THAT "ALL PARTS ON ALL THE EQUIPMENT WILL BE ROUTINELY CHECKED FOR PROPER FUNCTION AND ITEMS REPLACED AS REQUIRED" DID NOT MEET THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR THIS AREA, ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF THE CONDITION AND AGE OF THE EQUIPMENT. FURTHERMORE, SERVRITE'S ALL ENCOMPASSING STATEMENT THAT THE EQUIPMENT WOULD BE CLEANED AND SANITIZED DAILY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE "USPHS - GRADE 'A' PASTEURIZED MILK ORDINANCE" DID NOT SATISFY THE RFP'S REQUIREMENT FOR A SANITATION PROGRAM.

SERVRITE'S RESPONSE - SERVRITE, BY COMMITTING ITSELF TO FOLLOWING THE EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURER'S RECOMMENDED MAINTENANCE SCHEDULES AND TO PROVIDE SPARE PARTS FOR ITS PROPOSED EQUIPMENT, IN ADDITION TO KEEPING MAINTENANCE LOGS AT EACH FACILITY TO BE MADE AVAILABLE FOR GOVERNMENT INSPECTION, MORE THAN SATISFIED THE GOVERNMENT'S REQUIREMENTS FOR A MAINTENANCE PROGRAM. FURTHERMORE, SERVRITE ASSERTS THAT BY NOT TAKING EXCEPTION TO THE RFP'S REQUIREMENT THAT ALL PRODUCTS BE MANUFACTURED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE "USPHS - GRADE 'A' PASTEURIZED MILK ORDINANCE" (INCORPORATED AS APPENDIX II TO THE RFP), WHICH IN TURN MANDATES COMPLIANCE WITH CERTAIN SANITATION REQUIREMENTS, IN EFFECT, DEMONSTRATED A SPECIFIC SANITATION PROGRAM.

WE THINK SERVRITE'S MERE COMMITMENT TO FOLLOW THE EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURER'S RECOMMENDED MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE AND TO PROVIDE SPARE PARTS ALONG WITH KEEPING MAINTENANCE LOGS IS AN INADEQUATE RESPONSE TO THE EVALUATION FACTOR. WE BELIEVE OFFERORS SHOULD HAVE REALIZED THAT A RESPONSE TO THIS EVALUATION FACTOR WOULD NECESSITATE MORE THAN A GENERAL COMMITMENT AND A "PARROTING" BACK OF THE MAINTENANCE LOG REQUIREMENT. WHILE, AS ALLEGED BY SERVRITE, IT MAY HAVE BEEN UNFEASIBLE TO PROVIDE A MAINTENANCE INSTRUCTION FOR EACH PIECE OF EQUIPMENT, WE SEE NO REASON WHY AN OFFEROR COULD NOT REASONABLY PROVIDE A SPECIFIC PROGRAM FOR THE (PREVENTIVE) MAINTENANCE OF EQUIPMENT. FURTHERMORE, SERVRITE'S BLANKET ASSURANCE TO COMPLY WITH THE SANITATION REQUIREMENTS OF THE "USPHS GRADE 'A' PASTEURIZED MILK ORDINANCE" WAS EQUALLY NOT AN ADEQUATE RESPONSE TO THE RFP, SINCE FROM OUR REVIEW OF THE RECORD, IT APPEARS THAT A SPECIFIC SANITATION PROGRAM WOULD INVOLVE MORE THAN A PROMISE TO COMPLY WITH THAT DOCUMENT.

(F) SSEB - SERVRITE'S FLOOR PLAN WAS DEFICIENT. WHILE INDICATING THE INTENDED PLACEMENT OF THE PROPOSED EQUIPMENT, NO DIMENSIONS WERE PROVIDED, THUS MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE NAVY TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE EQUIPMENT WOULD FIT IN THE ALLOTTED SPACE WITH AT LEAST 48 INCHES OF FREE AREA REQUIRED FOR CLEANING.

SERVRITE'S RESPONSE - THE RFP DID NOT REQUIRE THAT OFFERORS INDICATE ON THE FLOOR PLAN THE DIMENSIONS OF THEIR PROPOSED EQUIPMENT OR THAT AT LEAST 48 INCHES OF FREE SPACE WAS REQUIRED FOR CLEANING.

THE EVALUATION CRITERIA DID NOT SPECIFICALLY REQUIRE THAT DIMENSIONS OF THE PROPOSED EQUIPMENT BE INDICATED ON THE FLOOR PLAN. HOWEVER, WE THINK ANY FLOOR PLAN, TO BE REASONABLY USEFUL, WOULD HAVE TO PROVIDE SOME DIMENSIONS, EITHER OF THE EQUIPMENT TO BE PLACED ON THE FLOOR OR OF THE OPEN SPACES BETWEEN THAT EQUIPMENT. THUS, WE THINK THE NAVY COULD REASONABLY REGARD A FLOOD PLAN WITHOUT ANY DIMENSIONS AS DEFICIENT. WE DO BELIEVE, HOWEVER, THAT THE NAVY SHOULD HAVE MORE EXPLICITLY INDICATED IN THE RFP ITS REQUIREMENT THAT THE EQUIPMENT HAVE AT LEAST 48 INCHES OF FREE AREA FOR CLEANING.

(2) SSEB - SERVRITE'S PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE WITH THE GOVERNMENT AND OTHER COMMERCIAL FIRMS FOR THE SUPPLY OF SIMILAR ITEMS AND SERVICES IS ACCEPTABLE FOR THE INSTANT PROCUREMENT.

SERVRITE'S RESPONSE - SERVRITE'S PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF NUMEROUS OTHER GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS WARRANTED ITS RECEIPT OF ALL THE POINTS ALLOTTED FOR THIS AREA OF EVALUATION.

A COMPARISON OF SERVRITE'S EXPERIENCE AS INDICATED BY ITS LIST OF PREVIOUS CONTRACTS WITH THE EXPERIENCE DEMONSTRATED BY FOREMOST AND OLD DOMINION'S SUBSTANTIATES THE NAVY'S POSITION THAT SERVRITE WAS ACCEPTABLE IN THIS AREA BUT NOT EQUAL TO THE OTHER OFFERORS, WHICH WERE GIVEN HIGHER EVALUATION SCORES IN THIS AREA.

3(A) SSEB - SERVRITE'S PROPOSAL DID NOT PROVIDE A SPECIFIC PLAN FOR THE REMOVAL OF THE GOVERNMENT-FURNISHED PROPERTY OTHER THAN TO MERELY INDICATE THAT THIS TASK WOULD BE ACCOMPLISHED OVER LONG WEEKENDS TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT POSSIBLE SO AS TO MINIMIZE DOWNTIME. THIS DOES NOT INDICATE THE EXISTENCE OF A PLAN FOR ORDERLY OR SEQUENTIAL REMOVAL OR RELOCATION.

SERVRITE'S RESPONSE - THE RFP DID NOT REQUIRE A DETAILED PLAN FOR THE REMOVAL OF THE EQUIPMENT.

IN REQUESTING THAT OFFERORS PROVIDE INFORMATION REGARDING THEIR PLANS FOR THE REMOVAL OF GOVERNMENT-FURNISHED PROPERTY TO BE REPLACED, THE RFP REASONABLY INDICATED THAT SOMETHING MORE THAN A STATEMENT THAT THE EQUIPMENT WOULD BE REMOVED OVER LONG WEEKENDS WAS REQUIRED FOR EVALUATION. OBVIOUSLY, SERVRITE'S GENERAL RESPONSE DID NOT PROVIDE THE NAVY WITH ENOUGH INFORMATION TO EVALUATE WHETHER SERVRITE WOULD REMOVE THE EXISTING EQUIPMENT WITHOUT SERIOUS DISRUPTION OF PRODUCTION AND WHETHER THE NEW EQUIPMENT WOULD BE INSTALLED IN SUFFICIENT TIME.

3(B) SSEB - SERVRITE'S MAXIMUM EQUIPMENT LEAD TIME OF 14 WEEKS IS ACCEPTABLE. HOWEVER, SERVRITE'S FAILURE TO INDICATE BASE DATES OR WHETHER THE 14-WEEK PERIOD WAS COMPUTED ON THE BASIS OF THE TIME FROM THE FACTORY TO THE POINT OF EMBARKATION IN THE UNITED STATED OR ACTUAL DELIVERY TO ROTA RENDERED THE RESPONSE INCOMPLETE.

SERVRITE'S RESPONSE - THE SSEB'S DOWNGRADING OF SERVRITE'S PROPOSAL IN THIS AREA WAS NOT JUSTIFIED SINCE THE RFP DID NOT REQUIRE THE OFFEROR TO SPECIFY BASE DATES OR WHETHER THE LEAD TIME WAS FROM THE FACTORY TO THE POINT OF EMBARKATION OR ROTA.

THIS PARTICULAR ISSUE HAS NO SIGNIFICANT BEARING ON THE OVERALL UNACCEPTABILITY OF SERVRITE'S PROPOSAL. THE NAVY REGARDED SERVRITE AS ACCEPTABLE IN THIS AREA, THE SSAC GIVING SERVRITE A SCORE INDICATING ACCEPTABLE "BUT REQUIRES * * * CLARIFICATION FOR FULL UNDERSTANDING." ACCORDING, IT IS CLEAR THAT SERVRITE WAS NOT REGARDED AS HAVING A MAJOR DEFICIENCY IN THIS AREA.

(C) SSEB - SERVRITE FAILED TO PROPOSE AN EQUIPMENT INSTALLATION PLAN. INDICATED ONLY THAT IT PLANNED TO HAVE THE INSTALLATION COMPLETED WITHIN 48 HOURS FROM THE TIME ALL THE EQUIPMENT ARRIVED AT THE PLANT, AND THIS PERIOD SEEMS UNREALISTIC. NO MENTION WAS MADE OF REWIRING, INTERIM CONTROL AND PRESERVATION OF REFRIGERATION AND STEAM OR WHETHER THE PLANNED INSTALLATION WOULD PERMIT PRODUCTION TO CONTINUE TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT POSSIBLE DURING THE PHASE-IN.

SERVRITE'S RESPONSE - SERVRITE CONTENDS THAT ITS PROPOSAL STATEMENTS THAT THE EQUIPMENT WOULD BE INSTALLED WITHIN 48 HOURS UTILIZING AT LEAST SIX INSTALLATION PERSONNEL (ONE EACH A SPECIALIST IN REFRIGERATION, STEAM AND WATER, AND ELECTRICITY) CONSTITUTE A PLAN. IT STATES THAT THE INFORMATION DEEMED ESSENTIAL BY THE NAVY WAS NOT REQUIRED BY THE RFP AND THAT IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN APPARENT TO THE NAVY THAT THE INSTALLATION OF NEW EQUIPMENT CANNOT TAKE PLACE WITHOUT THE ASSURANCE OF ADEQUATE REFRIGERATION FOR THE PRODUCTS ALREADY IN STORAGE. WE BELIEVE IT WAS REASONABLE FOR THE NAVY TO FIND SERVRITE'S PROPOSAL DEFICIENT IN THIS AREA. WE THINK ANY REALISTIC EVALUATION OF EQUIPMENT INSTALLATION WOULD ENCOMPASS A REVIEW OF PROPOSED INSTALLATION STEPS AND PROCEDURES SO THAT IT COULD BE DETERMINED WHAT EXTENT EQUIPMENT WOULD BE INSTALLED WITHOUT INTERRUPTION OF CURRENT PRODUCTION. SERVRITE'S LIMITED GENERAL RESPONSE DID NOT PROVIDE THAT INFORMATION.

4. SSEB - SERVRITE'S LISTING OF ITS SOURCES OF RAW MATERIALS BY COUNTRY RATHER THAN INDICATING THE SPECIFIC VENDOR FROM WHOM IT INTENDED TO PURCHASE THE MATERIALS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. SERVRITE'S LIST DID NOT ACCOUNT FOR CERTAIN OTHER INGREDIENTS AND FOR THOSE ACTUALLY LISTED, NO ALTERNATE SOURCES OF SUPPLY WERE PROVIDED. ALSO, SERVRITE'S EXTREMELY BROAD LEAD TIME (45 TO 120 DAYS) FOR DELIVERY OF THOSE RAW MATERIALS TO THE PLANTS INDICATED A CERTAIN DEGREE OF UNCERTAINTY AS TO THE OFFEROR'S KNOWLEGE OF THEIR AVAILABILITY AND LEAVES DOUBT AS TO THE OFFEROR'S ABILITY TO SET UP AN ORDERING PROGRAM TO INSURE COMPLIANCE WITH THE INVENTORY REQUIREMENTS OF THE RFP.

SERVRITE'S RESPONSE - SERVRITE'S IDENTIFICATION OF THE PRINCIPAL RAW MATERIALS AND SOURCE COUNTRIES ALONG WITH A SPECIFIED LEAD TIME FOR DELIVERY OF THOSE MATERIALS TO THE PLANTS AND INVENTORY PROCEDURES CONSITUTED A COMPLETE RESPONSE. THE RFP DID NOT REQUIRE IDENTIFICATION OF THE PARTICULAR RAW MATERIAL SOURCES BY NAME OR TO LIST ALTERNATE SOURCES OF SUPPLY. MOREOVER, THERE WAS NO NEED TO FURNISH THIS INFORMATION SINCE SERVRITE OBLIGATED ITSELF TO UTILIZE ONLY GOVERNMENT APPROVED SOURCES. SERVRITE CONTENDS THAT ITS 45 TO 120 DAY DELIVERY PERIOD DOES NOT INDICATE ANY UNCERTAINTY BUT RATHER IS THE RANGE OF DELIVERY TIME IT HAS EXPERIENCED DURING PERFORMANCE OF THE CURRENT CONTRACT AT KENITRA DEPENDING ON THE PARTICULAR RAW MATERIAL AND THE MODE OF TRANSPORTATION CHOSEN BY THE NAVY.

THE NAVY'S EVALUATION OF SERVRITE'S PROPOSAL IN THIS AREA DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE UNREASONABLE. ALTHOUGH SERVRITE OBLIGATED ITSELF TO UTILIZE GOVERNMENT-APPROVED SOURCES FOR ITS RAW MATERIALS, THE RFP CLEARLY INDICATED THAT EVALUATION WOULD INCLUDE EACH OFFEROR'S PARTICULAR SOURCES. WE SEE NOTHING UNREASONABLE WITH THE NAVY'S EXPECTATION THAT OFFERORS WOULD RESPOND BY IDENTIFYING THE MATERIAL SOURCES BY NAME RATHER THAN SOLELY BY COUN-RY. FURTHERMORE, A COMPARISON OF SERVRITE'S LEAD TIME FOR DELIVERY OF THE RAW MATERIALS TO THE PLANTS WITH THE LEAD TIMES FOR THOSE RAW MATERIALS INDICATED BY OLD DOMINION AND FOREMOST SUBSTANTIATES THE NAVY'S POSITION THAT SERVRITE MAY HAVE BEEN UNCERTAIN AS TO THE AVAILABILITY OF THE ITEMS.

WE HAVE CAREFULLY REVIEWED THE ENTIRE RECORD IN THIS CASE. AS INDICATED ABOVE, WE DO NOT FIND THAT THE NAVY'S EVALUATION OF PROPOSALS WAS IMPROPER. IT APPEARS THAT THE PROTESTER'S POSITION IS BASED PRIMARILY ON A BASIC MISUNDERSTANDING OF WHAT WAS REQUIRED BY THE RFP. IT IS, OF COURSE, A FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE OF FEDERAL PROCUREMENT THAT SOLICITATIONS BE DRAFTED IN SUCH A MANNER TO INFORM OFFERORS IN CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS TERMS OF WHAT WILL BE REQUIRED OF THEM SO THAT OFFERORS CAN COMPETE ON AN EQUAL BASIS. DPF INCORPORATED, B-180292, SEPTEMBER 12, 1974, 74-2 CPD 159, AND CASES CITED THEREIN. HOWEVER, THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT THAT EVERY DETAIL OF WHAT WILL BE CONSIDERED IN PROPOSAL EVALUATION BE EXPLICITLY STATED IN AN RFP, SO LONG AS OFFERORS ARE ADVISED OF THE BASIC EVALUATION CRITERIA THAT WILL BE APPLIED. SEE IROQUOIS RESEARCH INSTITUTE, 55 COMP.GEN. 787 (1976), 76-1 CPD 123; AEL SERVICE CORPORATION ET AL., 53 COMP.GEN. 800 (1974), 74-1 CPD 217.

HERE, WE DO NOT BELIEVE IT WAS NECESSARY FOR THE RFP TO SPECIFY THE MULTITUDE OF CONCERNS THAT WOULD LOGICALLY BE ENCOMPASSED WITHIN EACH STATED EVALUATION AREA. IT IS OUR VIEW, AS STATED ABOVE, THAT THE SETTING FORTH OF THE EVALUATION FACTORS, COMBINED WITH THE RFP WARNING THAT OFFERORS HAD TO "COMPLETELY" ADDRESS EACH EVALUATION AREA, WAS SUFFICIENT TO PLACE ALL OFFERORS ON NOTICE THAT A DETAILED TECHNICAL EVALUATION WAS TO BE CONDUCTED AND THAT OFFERORS NOT PROVIDING ADEQUATE INFORMATION WITH RESPECT TO EACH AREA RAN THE RISK OF HAVING THEIR PROPOSALS REJECTED. THE FACT THAT THIS TYPE OF TECHNICAL EVALUATION WAS NOT CONDUCTED IN PRIOR PROCUREMENTS FOR FILLED MILK OR THAT SERVRITE WAS FOUND TO BE ACCEPTABLE IN THOSE PROCUREMENTS ON THE BASIS OF PROPOSALS SIMILAR TO WHAT IT SUBMITTED IN THIS CASE DOES NOT CHANGE THE FACT THAT THIS RFP REQUIRED MORE DETAILED INFORMATION.

THE REJECTION OF SERVRITE'S PROPOSAL FOLLOWED THE NAVY'S DETERMINATION THAT THE PROPOSAL WAS SO DEFICIENT THAT IT COULD NOT BE PLACED IN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE. COMPETITIVE RANGE DETERMINATIONS ARE IN LARGE MEASURE MATTERS OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION. THUS, WHILE PROPOSALD, INCLUDING DOUBTFUL PROPOSALS, ARE TO BE INCLUDED IN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE UNLESS THEY ARE SO DEFICIENT THAT MEANINGFUL DISCUSSIONS ARE PRECLUDED, 53 COMP.GEN. 1, SUPRA; 50 ID. 670 (1971); ARMED SERVICES PROCUREMENT REGULATION (ASPR) SEC. 3-805.2 (1975 ED.), THE DETERMINATION AS TO WHETHER A PROPOSAL IS SO DEFICIENT IS PRIMARILY WITHIN THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S DISCRETION AND WILL NOT BE DISTURBED UNLESS IT IS CLEARLY WITHOUT A REASONABLE BASIS. 49 COMP.GEN. 309 (1969); 48 ID. 314 (1968).

IN THIS CASE, WE FIND NO BASIS FOR DISAGREEING WITH THE CONTRACTING OFFICER'S DETERMINATION. WHILE WE AGREE THAT CERTAIN OF THE NOTED DEFICIENCIES, BY THEMSELVES, DO NOT APPEAR TO BE "MAJOR," OTHER DEFICIENCIES (SUCH AS THOSE REGARDING MAINTENANCE, PRODUCTION, AND CONSERVATION) PRECLUDED THE NAVY FROM MAKING AN INTELLIGENT TECHNICAL EVALUATION. THUS, WE DO NOT FIND UNREASONABLE THE NAVY'S DETERMINATION THAT THE SERVRITE PROPOSAL COULD BE UPGRADED TO AN ACCEPTABLE LEVEL ONLY THROUGH MAJOR REVISIONS WHICH IN EFFECT WOULD CONSTITUTE A COMPLETELY REVISED PROPOSAL, SEE COMTEN-COMRESS, B-183379, JUNE 30, 1975, 75-1 CPD 400, AND THAT IT WAS THEREFORE OUTSIDE THE COMPETITIVE RANGE. MEI CHARLTON, INC., SUPRA; PRC COMPUTER CENTER, INC., ET AL., 55 COMP.GEN. 60 (1975), 75-2 CPD 35.

IN THIS REGARD, WE POINT OUT THAT ALTHOUGH SERVRITE MAY HAVE CONSIDERABLE EXPERIENCE AND BE WELL QUALIFIED TO FULFILL THE NAVY'S NEEDS, THIS DOES NOT RENDER THE NAVY'S DETERMINATION UNREASONABLE OR OTHERWISE IMPROPER. TECHNICAL EVALUATIONS, AND COMPETITIVE RANGE DETERMINATIONS, ARE BASED "ON THE DEGREE TO WHICH AN OFFEROR'S WRITTEN PROPOSAL ADEQUATELY ADDRESSES THE PROPOSAL EVALUATION FACTORS STATED IN THE RFP. NO MATTER HOW CAPABLE A CONCERN MAY BE, IF IT DOES NOT SUBMIT AN ADEQUATELY WRITTEN PROPOSAL, IT WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED IN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE OR IN LINE FOR FURTHER DISCUSSIONS IN A NEGOTIATED PROCUREMENT." PHELPS PROTECTION SYSTEMS INC., B-181148, NOVEMBER 7, 1974, 74-2 CPD 244. THUS, OFFERORS, INCLUDING INCUMBENT CONTRACTORS, WHO FAIL TO SUBMIT CLEAR AND COMPLETE PROPOSALS MAY BE ELIMINATED FROM THE COMPETITIVE RANGE, EVEN THOUGH THEIR PROPOSALS MAY SUFFER ONLY FROM INFORMATIONAL DEFICIENCIES. UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS, B-184194, JANUARY 14, 1976, 76-1 CPD 22; PRC COMPUTER CENTER, INC. ET AL., SUPRA; 52 COMP.GEN. 718 (1973). SINCE SERVRITE WAS PROPERLY ELIMINATED FROM THE COMPETITIVE RANGE, SERVRITE WAS NOT ENTITLED TO AN OPPORTUNITY TO SUBMIT A REVISED PROPOSAL. 52 COMP.GEN. 382 (1972).

NEITHER IS THE NAVY'S DETERMINATION IMPROPER BECAUSE ANOTHER OFFEROR (OLD DOMINION) WAS GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO REVISE ITS PROPOSAL IS COME OF THE AREAS IN WHICH SERVRITE'S PROPOSAL WAS FOUND TO BE DEFICIENT. TWO OFFERORS WERE FOUND TO BE IN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE. ON THAT BASIS, NEGOTIATIONS WERE CONDUCTED WITH THOSE OFFERORS. A BASIC ELEMENT OF NEGOTIATIONS IS THE POINTING OUT OF DEFICIENCIES AND PROVIDING OFFERORS IN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE AN OPPORTUNITY TO CORRECT THOSE DEFICIENCIES THROUGH THE SUBMISSION OF REVISED PROPOSALS. ASPR SEC. 3-805.3; 52 COMP.GEN. 406 (1975); 47 ID. 336 (1967). HOWEVER, AS STATED ABOVE, THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT THAT NEGOTIATIONS BE CONDUCTED WITH AN OFFEROR WHOSE PROPOSAL IS SO DEFICIENT THAT IT IS INITIALLY EXCLUDED FROM THE COMPETITIVE RANGE. PHELPS PROTECTION SYSTEMS, INC., SUPRA; 52 COMP.GEN. 382, SUPRA. THEREFORE, THE FACT THAT OLD DOMINION, WHOSE PROPOSAL WAS RATED SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER THAN SERVRITE'S, WAS ASKED TO REVISE ITS PROPOSAL IN THE AREAS IN WHICH SERVRITE WAD DEFICIENT DOES NOT ESTABLISH THAT SERVRITE WAS TREATED UNFAIRLY.

WITH REGARD TO SERVRITE'S ALLEGATION THAT FOREMOST AND OLD DOMINION WERE SUPPLIED "INSIDER INFORMATION" AT THE PRE-PROPOSAL CONFERENCE WHICH EMPHASIZED THE REQUIREMENT THAT PROPOSALS CONTAIN DETAILED DISCUSSIONS OF THE AREAS COVERED BY THE EVALUATION CRITERIA, THE NAVY HAS SUPPLIED OUR OFFICE WITH AN AFFIDAVIT EXECUTED BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER. THE AFFIDAVIT RECOGNIZES THAT THERE WAS MUCH DISCUSSION AMONG THE OFFERORS PRESENT AND NAVY OFFICIALS, BUT EMPHASIZES THAT ALL THOSE MATTERS DISCUSSED WHICH HAD ANY IMPACT ON SECTION D, "EVALUATION AND AWARD FACTORS", OR ON THE OTHER AREAS OF THE SOLICITATION, WERE INCORPORATED INTO RFP AMENDMENT 4 WHICH WAS ISSUED TO ALL OFFERORS ON JUNE 1, 1976. THE CONTRACTING OFFICER UNEQUIVOCALLY STATED THAT NO OTHER INFORMATION WAS IMPARTED TO THE OFFERORS AT THE CONFERENCE OR AT ANY OTHER TIME. FINALLY, IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT SERVRITE WAS FULLY AWARE THAT THIS CONFERENCE WAS TO BE HELD BUT DECLINED TO ATTEND. IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, WE HAVE NO BASIS FOR CONCLUDING THAT ANY INFORMATION WAS IMPROPERLY PROVIDED ONLY TO SERVRITE'S COMPETITORS.

SERVRITE ALSO ASSERTS THAT THE EVALUATION OF ITS PROPOSAL WAS NOT CONDUCTED IN A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL MANNER BECAUSE THE NAVY EVALUATORS WERE BIASED AND THAT ITS EXCLUSION FROM THE COMPETITIVE RANGE WAS THE RESULT OF AN " * * * APPARENT CONTINUED PROCEDURE DESIGNED TO DISQUALIFY * * * " IT FROM AWARD CONSIDERATION. HOWEVER, SERVRITE HAS FAILED TO DOCUMENT ITS CHARGES THAT THE PROCUREMENT PROCESS WAS A BIASED ONE. WHERE, AS HERE, THE RECORD REASONABLY SUPPORTS THE AGENCY'S DETERMINATION AS TO THE RELATIVE TECHNICAL MERIT OF THE PROPOSAL, MERE ALLEGATIONS OF BIASED EVALUATION PROVIDE NO BASIS FOR OUR OFFICE TO INTERFERE WITH THE AGENCY'S DETERMINATION THAT SERVRITE'S PROPOSAL WAS OUTSIDE THE COMPETITIVE RANGE. INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL CONCERNS, B-181800, MAY 1, 1975, 75-1 CPD 274.

IN LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING, THE PROTEST IS DENIED.