Protest Alleging Failure of Agency To Advise Offerors of Complete Evaluation Criteria

B-194924: Dec 19, 1979

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The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) canceled a contract for a computer system because the awardee's equipment was eventually found to be unusable. CPSC issued a request for proposals (RFP) to repurchase the equipment and two companies which had submitted proposals under the original RFP, International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation and Data 100 Corporation, resubmitted proposals. Data 100 protested the subsequent award to IBM, contending that it was unfairly penalized by the attribution of a $300,000 evaluation factor which made its previously lower bid higher than the IBM. Data 100 claimed that it had not been made aware of a requirement that the system be capable of using a certain computer program language, and that the CPSC response to its initial submission had not given any indication of the necessity for the language or that a conversion cost may be added. Data 100 also contended that IBM would have known of the need because it had supplied the main frame and software for the system to CPSC. CPSC stated that its response to Data 100's original proposal should have indicated that it was interested in a system which would permit the use of the language, or that it would consider the conversion cost. GAO held that the RFP was remarkably bereft of specificity, and that the failure of CPSC to advise all offerors of the complete evaluation criteria, or to amend the specifications, did not provide all offerors the opportunity to compete on an equal basis as required. Therefore, the award to IBM was improper and the protest was sustained.