Protest Alleging Breach of FSS Contract

B-194477: Apr 9, 1980

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A company protested the issuance of an order to another firm for dictating equipment by the Veterans Administration (VA). The protester asserted that the VA breached its Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contract by buying from the other firm. The protester alleged that it submitted the lowest quote and that the order should have been issued to it. The Federal Property Management Regulations require the VA, as a mandatory user of FSS, to order dictating equipment which meets the VA minimum needs at the lowest delivered price available under the FSS. Here, the request for quotations (RFQ) referenced a specification which suggested that the cost evaluation would take into account the useful life of the offered equipment, at least if the telephone company rental charges would be involved. The RFQ did not, however, provide any indication of what period the VA would use when evaluating the useful life of the dictation equipment. GAO held that the RFQ did not permit fair and equal competition. GAO found that no award properly should have resulted from the RFQ because all quoters were not aware of how useful life would be evaluated. Consequently, the protest was sustained to the extent that award should not have been made. Since delivery had been completed no remedial action was possible.