[Protests of Rejection of Bids and Contract Award]

B-205994.2,B-208528.2,B-209291,B-209357,B-209501: May 16, 1983

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A joint venture protested the rejection of a number of its proposals to provide educational services to the Army, and another firm protested both a contract award and another potential award to the joint venture. In all cases protested by the joint venture, the Army had determined that it was nonresponsible because one of the parties was not an accredited institution. For the procurements involving the individual protester, the Army had accepted the joint venture's proposals. The primary issue in all of the cases was the propriety of rejecting or accepting of the joint venture's proposals. The solicitations had required all contractors to be accredited educational institutions, because the Army considered the requirement a definitive responsibility criterion for contract completion. GAO has held that the requirement bore a reasonable relationship to the services to be performed. Further, since a contracting agency is best qualified to determine its needs, GAO will not disturb such a responsibility determination except in circumstances not present in this case. GAO denied the joint venture's protests of the nonresponsibility determinations. GAO further held that the individual protester correctly argued that the Army's two affirmative determinations of the joint venture's responsibility were erroneous, and it sustained the protest against the potential award. However, although GAO also sustained the protest against the award already made, termination of the contract was not practicable.