Protest of Forest Service Contracts Award

B-196084,B-196377,B-196411,B-196420,B-196469: Feb 20, 1980

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A firm submitted eight protests concerning 16 different Forest Service contract awards to eight different firms for land surveys within various national forests. As the facts of each protest were essentially the same, they were combined for the purposes of this decision. In each protest, the firm objected to the award of a recent contract and a prior contract to a particular firm. It contended that the award of two contracts to the same firm was contrary to the Forest Service's stated policy of effecting an equitable distribution of architecture and engineering contracts. In addition, it contended that a requirement that the contractor be located within a prescribed distance from the work site was faulty and that it was incorrectly rated as not being within the allowable radius in two of the procurements. The protester argued that the scoring system made it impossible for a firm without previous contracts with the Forest Service to obtain one and that points should have been added the ratings of such firms. Finally, the protester contended that it was rated too low in each instance under the criteria measuring experience and prior performance. The Forest Service contended that it deducted points from firms with current or potential contracts, rather than adding points as the protester suggested. GAO held that the contentions concerning the distance from the job site were untimely since they were not filed prior to bid opening. Also, it held that the Forest Service acted properly in deducting evaluation points for firms with current or potential contracts, rather than adding points to those firms with no prior contracts. GAO found the Forest Service's evaluation of the protester's experience in each instance to be consistent with the published criteria. No evidence was found that the awards were a result of bias against the protester. Accordingly, the protest was dismissed in part and denied in part.