Protest of Competitive Procedures Under Invitation for Bids

B-204634: Feb 2, 1982

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A firm protested the use of competitive procedures under an invitation for bids (IFB) issued by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. The solicitation required that a registered professional staff be provided to direct all phases of work under the contract as specified by the Brooks Act and that this staff be approved by the contracting officer before commencement of operations. The protester contended that: (1) because the solicitation required the services of registered professional engineers to supervise the operations, as set forth in the Brooks Act, the entire selection method of procurement for services set out in that Act should have been used; (2) if the required supervision could be performed properly by other than professional engineers, then the invitation's requirements for registered professional staff constituted an undue restriction on competition. GAO concluded that, if the contracting agency determined that the contract operations would be performed independent of any statutory restrictions, competitive bidding could be used in lieu of the selection method set forth in the Act. Therefore, GAO found that the solicitation requirements for a registered professional staff and the approval of that staff before commencement of operations was unduly restrictive of competition where professionals other than engineers could fulfill the requirements. However, this did not mandate the complete use of the procurement procedures contained in the Act. Accordingly, the protest was sustained in part and denied in part.