Protest of VA Contract Award

B-200845: Nov 28, 1980

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan issued an order suspending proceedings in a suit filed by a firm while the firm pursued a bid protest it filed against the Veterans Administration (VA). The firm sought an injunction against awarding a contract to a second firm until the protester's bid protest was decided. The invitation for bids (IFB) requested bids for three groups of services: ambulance service, station wagon or commercial sedan service, and carry-all or econo-van service. The award was to be given to the firm with the lowest aggregate price for all three services. The protester submitted bids for only two of the three services and its bid was the lowest for carry-all or econo-vans. The firm contended that, because VA is required to award contracts to the low responsive, responsible bidders, and because the award of multiple contracts would be more economical for VA than an aggregate contract, the contract for econo-vans should have been awarded to it. GAO held that the contract must be awarded according to the specifications of the IFB, and the award must be made to the aggregate bidder if an award was made under this solicitation. However, GAO held that the solicitation should be canceled since a multiple award would result in substantial savings and meet Government's minimum needs. A higher cost aggregate award would, therefore, be improper. The question then becomes why VA felt an aggregate award was preferable to a multiple award. This issue, however, was not directly addressed by VA or the protester, and since the court requested an opinion on the matter within a specific timeframe, GAO did not request a report from VA on the issue. Therefore, GAO could not reach any firm conclusion on the matter. The protester also alleged that the awardee was ineligible since it did not have a valid Michigan license to perform the contract services. GAO held that this was a matter between the bidder and the licensing authority and was not a prerequisite to award. The protest on this issue was denied.