[Protests of Procurement Practices]

B-207888.4,B-207888.5,B-207888.6,B-207888.7: Dec 13, 1982

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Four firms filed protests concerning an Army invitation for bids (IFB) for mess attendant services. Three of the firms protested that the Army did not inform bidders reasonably in advance of bid opening that it was making certain background material available for inspection by potential bidders. In addition, two of the firms complained that the IFB estimates failed to provide an adequate basis for competition; one protester complained that the IFB did not provide a firm fixed-price contract; and one protester objected to the Army's evaluation of prompt payment discounts to determine the bidder in line for award. GAO has consistently held that a contracting activity discharges its responsibility when it issues and dispatches an amendment in sufficient time to permit all the prospective bidders to consider the information in preparing their bids, notwithstanding the delay or loss of a particular bidder's copy of the amendment. The propriety of a procurement does not depend on whether a bidder failed to receive the amendment, but on whether the Government obtained adequate competition at reasonable prices. Since adequate competition was received on this IFB, the three bidders' failure to receive the amendment did not provide a basis for objecting to the award. GAO found that the protesters failed to show that the estimated quantities given in the solicitation were not a reasonably accurate representation of the Army's anticipated actual needs. GAO also had no basis to conclude that the IFB estimates precluded a reasonable determination that an award to the lowest bidder would result in the lowest cost to the Government. GAO found that the IFB envisioned a fixed-price contract within the meaning of the regulations. GAO disagreed with the contention that the IFB was ambiguous and found that there was no basis to an allegation that a protester was prejudiced by a reduction of the contract period resulting from the delayed award. Finally, GAO found no merit to the position that the Army should reevaluate the bids without considering offered prompt payment discounts. GAO found that the Army properly considered the prompt payment discounts offered by bidders. Accordingly, the protests were denied.