Protest of Solicitation Specifications

B-200391.2,B-201832,B-201958,B-202639,B-202914: Jun 24, 1981

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A firm protested the issuance of numerous solicitations by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) for surgical instruments. A second firm protested any award of a contract to another firm by DLA. The first firm contended that certain phrases in the specifications for surgical instruments were either so broad as to be open to arbitrary and subjective interpretation or were internally inconsistent. It presented specific arguments directed at specific phrases found in a DLA medical procurement item description. According to DLA, the challenged phrases were descriptive of what are essentially tactile attributes of medical instruments, which are well understood in the surgical industry. GAO will not question an agency's determination that an existing Federal specification meets its actual requirements unless the determination lacks a reasonable basis. It held that DLA established the reasonableness of the protested specifications. In the second protest, the protester objected to DLA consideration of another firm's bid on the ground that the firm sent the required bid samples to the DLA testing laboratory instead of to the address specified for receipt of bids. The solicitation required bidders to furnish bid samples as part of the bid and required their receipt prior to the time set for bid opening. DLA reported that the firm's bid samples arrived at the laboratory the day before bid opening in a box which identified its contents. DLA cited a prior GAO decision as a basis for acceptance of the bid sample. In that decision, GAO held that a requirement that bid samples be furnished as part of a bid did not mean that the samples must be furnished with the invitation papers and that no other means of timely submission would be permitted. Rather, it meant that a sample must be submitted before bid opening to the contracting activity in such a responsible manner as to identify it with the procurement in question. GAO agreed with DLA. Accordingly, the protests were denied.