Protest of Agency Decision Not To Consider Proposal

B-194356: May 28, 1980

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A small business firm protested the Air Force's refusal to consider its proposal. The Air Force refused to consider the proposal because the protester did not acknowledge a material amendment to the RFP and it intended to make an award on the basis of initial proposals. Award was withheld pending the resolution of the protest. The issue involved was whether the Air Force should make an award on the basis of initial proposals without benefit of discussions, thereby precluding further consideration of the protester's offer. While GAO was not prepared to question the Air Force's determination that an award on the basis of initial proposals would be made at a fair and reasonable price, it questioned the wisdom of not conducting discussions with all offerors within the competitive range. The record indicated that the protester's offer was competitively priced and that it was possible that an award could be made at a price lower than that of the low conforming initial proposal, if the protester were given an opportunity to revise its proposal to include the information requested in the amendment. Further, the record indicated that conducting discussions would have been neither time consuming nor costly, and that the services were not urgently needed. GAO believed the Air Force should not make an award on the basis of initial proposals, but should conduct discussions with all offerors. Therefore, the protest was sustained.