Protest Alleging That Contracting Agency Improperly Evaluated Bids

B-198314: Jan 13, 1981

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A firm protested the award of a contract under an invitation for bids (IFB) issued by the Naval Supply Center in Hawaii. The basis of the protest was that the contracting agency improperly evaluated bids, resulting in an erroneous award to the second low bidder. Specifically, the firm contended that: (1) it was improper for the Navy to base its price evaluation on the 31-month contractual performance period set forth in the IFB since a delay in the award of the contract caused the actual contract length to be 30 months; (2) the IFB improperly provided for the addition of annual utilities costs to the basic bid prices; and (3) the Navy violated applicable statutes by awarding the contract while a protest was pending. The firm had notified the Navy by telegram of its protest after bid closing but prior to award of the contract. GAO held that the portions of the protest dealing with conflicts in specifications of the IFB were untimely since the alleged defects should have been apparent from the face of the IFB. The protest concerning improper evaluation of all bids was timely since it was filed within 10 days of notification by the Navy of the contract award. GAO further held that the evaluation on a 31-month contractual performance was proper since competition was fair and the cost of resoliciting would equal or exceed the savings gained by evaluation on a 30-month contract period. Accordingly, the protest was denied. GAO did agree with the protesting firm that the Navy awarded the contract without complying to Defense Acquisitions Regulations pertaining to nonaward of a contract while a protest is pending. The matter was brought to the attention of the agency for appropriate corrective action.