Protest Alleging Awardee's Bid Was Materially Unbalanced

B-197506: Aug 21, 1980

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A firm protested the award of a contract for the servicing of automatic boiler and feed water control systems of various Navy ships. The protester alleged that the awardee's bid was materially unbalanced, and implied that the bid was nonresponsive, the awardee was nonresponsible, and the specifications were defective. Further, it argued that the award was improper and because the Navy was uncertain regarding its own requirements, the services should be procured only when the need arises. After reviewing and verifying all the bid prices of all bidders, the contracting officer concluded that the awardee's bid was not materially unbalanced. Even assuming that the awardee's bid was mathematically unbalanced, GAO did not find it to be materially unbalanced. Since nothing in the awardee's bid took exception to the solicitation requirements, the awardee was bound to perform the contract in accordance with all the terms and conditions of the solicitation. Thus, there was no basis to question the responsiveness of the bid. Regarding the awardee's responsibility, GAO does not review affirmative determinations of responsibility unless fraud is shown on the part of procuring officials or the solicitation contains definitive responsibility criteria which allegedly have not been applied. The record indicated that the specifications were defective in that the requirement for servicing a specific type of ship was overstated. The question then was whether any bidder was prejudiced as a result of the defective specifications. GAO believed that although all bidders were misled by the specifications, this had no effect on the relative standing of the bidders. It found that the contract was awarded to the lowest responsive, responsible bidder without any prejudice to other bidders. Accordingly, the protest was denied.