Protest Against Proposed Sole-Source Award

B-195237: Dec 14, 1979

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A firm protested the proposed award of an Air Force contract for in-the-field technical and maintenance aircraft system support on a sole source basis. It contended that the Air Force did not have adequate justification for a sole source award. The protester held the maintenance contract from 1972 through 1975. The awardee has held it since then. The protester contended that the statement of work for the proposed contract is not substantially different from that of its earlier contracts. It contended that detailed technical data not in its possession would not be necessary for performing the contract. According to the Air Force, although the aircraft was relatively stable during the time the protester held the contract, it has undergone substantial modifications since then. It contended that the current contractor was the only contractor familiar with the modifications and able to perform the necessary support. The Air Force further contended that it did not have adequate data to conduct a competitive procurement. GAO has held that the standard of review for determining the propriety of a sole source procurement is reasonableness. Unless the protester can affirmatively prove that the contracting agency acted without a reasonable basis, the award will not be questioned. Where only one source can satisfy the Government's needs, contracting officials are not required to modify or compromise procurement standards to obtain competition. Also, it has been held that a sole source award is justified where adequate data is not available to conduct a competitive procurement within the necessary timeframe. GAO held that the Air Force's determination that the awardee's expertise was essential for performance of the contract was reasonable. Further, its contention that it did not presently have sufficient data to conduct a competitive procurement was adequately supported. Thus, the protest was denied.