Protest of Award of a Cost-Reimbursement Contract

B-196442: Mar 11, 1980

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A firm protested the award of a Department of Health, Education, and Welfare contract to another firm. The protester contended that the award was made on a basis other than that on which proposals were requested and disputed the results of the evaluation of its own proposal. The request for proposals (RFP) stated that the contract work was to be done in two phases over a performance period of 17.5 months and provided that the estimated level effort would be approximately 6.5 person-years. Five proposals were received, but none were found acceptable. It was determined that the protester's, the awardee's, and two other firms' proposals could be made acceptable through negotiations. Discussions were held, and best and final offers were submitted and evaluated. Award was made for a proposed level of effort of 8 person-years and a performance period of 27 months. The protester contended that if it had been permitted to submit a proposal on the bases upon which the contract was awarded it could have offered a superior technical proposal at a lower cost than the awardee. Although the award on an 8 person-year basis complied with the RFP, the 27-month performance period varied substantially from that prescribed in the solicitation. Therefore, GAO held that the failure to amend the RFP was prejudicial to the awardee's competitors. Award of the contract was held to be improper, and GAO recommended that negotiations be reopened for another round of best and final offers. As for the protester's contention concerning the technical evaluation of its proposal, GAO did not consider this contention in light of its recommendation. The protest was sustained.