Protest of Sole-Source Award

B-199937: Oct 2, 1981

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A firm protested the designation of another firm as the only acceptable source of pressure tube fittings under a solicitation issued by the Department of the Navy. The fittings in question were intended for use as replacements for, or repair of, fittings originally supplied by the sole-source company. The Navy justified this restriction of competition on the basis that the source of replacement parts was limited to the original manufacturer under the material control classification presently assigned these fittings. However, other firms have supplied the same parts in previous procurements under stringent controls and have demonstrated no significant problems. The proposed awardee argued that fittings supplied by other firms would not be guaranteed if replacements other than its own were used. GAO held that the fact that the fittings were classified in one group was not an adequate justification for declaring the original supplier the only acceptable supplier. Additionally, evidence was not presented to show that other firms could not satisfactorily perform the work in question. Therefore, a sole-source award was not justified. Further, the matter of the guarantee was not adequate to justify the sole-source award since the original manufacturer would not guarantee its own replacement parts when used with the original equipment. Accordingly, the protest was sustained.