Protest of Proposed Contract Award

B-202140: Jul 7, 1981

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A firm protested a proposed contract award maintaining that the award was prejudiced by the fact that the evaluation criteria, as stated in the request for proposals (RFP), were not followed in the actual evaluation of proposals. The evaluation scheme should have placed significantly more emphasis on the technical considerations than on price; however, the relative dichotomy between technical matters and price was not preserved. The agency first ranked the proposals technically, and proposals which met minimum RFP requirements were then assigned evaluation points for price. Therefore, cost carried considerably more weight in the evaluation than it should have, and the agency decided to award the contract to a minimally technically qualified firm offering the lowest price. GAO held that award on the basis of the initial proposals would be improper because the evaluation of the offers did not follow the stated RFP evaluation criteria. Once the offerors were informed of the evaluation criteria, it was incumbent on the procuring agency to adhere to that criteria or inform all offerors of changes in the evaluation scheme. The criteria also exceeded or did not accurately state the actual requirements of the agency. Thus the agency should either cancel and resolicit or amend the existing RFP. GAO recommended that the agency amend the evaluation section of the RFP, allow the submission of revised proposals, and follow the evaluation scheme in the amended RFP. The protest was sustained.