Protest Alleging That Awardee's Proposal Was Not Responsive to Solicitation Provision

B-193877: Dec 31, 1979

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A firm protested the award of a contract to a lower-priced offeror whose unsolicited proposal included equipment not specified in the request for proposals (RFP). The protester, who was mentioned in the RFP as the manufacturer of the specified equipment, argued that the RFP did not include a "brand name or equal" provision or any other indication that alternative items might be considered. As a result, the protester was allegedly misled into submitting its offer solely on the basis of the specified equipment, whereas the awardee was given an unfair competitive advantage since it was permitted to offer substitute equipment. GAO determined that the language of the RFP provided for the qualification of an item other than the one listed in the RFP if the item offered performed in a technically acceptable manner and if the offeror could provide the procuring agency adequate data to evaluate the item's comparability and acceptability. Further, it has been held that an RFP specifying only a particular brand name item does not preclude an award to a company offering an equivalent product. Accordingly, the protest was denied.