[Protest of IFB Issued by ICC]

B-209089,B-209089.3,B-209089.4,B-209089.5: Mar 28, 1983

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Three firms protested an Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) invitation for bids (IFB) for carrier insurance and a process agent compliance program. The first protester argued that the IFB contained numerous misrepresentations, misinformation, and other improprieties, thus precluding any contractor from performing the contract. GAO held that, subsequent to ICC consideration of these problems, the agency reasonably changed the IFB to correct the problems. The second protester objected to the rejection of its bid for failure to insert a price in a specific line item. The protester argued that the line item did not require a separate unit cost aside from the total contract cost. ICC contended that the protester did not indicate whether the line item cost was included in the price of other line items or if it would be provided to ICC at no cost. GAO held that, since the line item cost could not be determined from the face of the bid, ICC properly rejected the bid as nonresponsive. Further, the protester's failure to indicate the price could not be waived, because the IFB described the item as a material requirement. The third protester argued that a conflict of interest existed among the awardee's officers and that they should not be allowed to operate the program. GAO concurred with the ICC conclusion that the nature of the contract made a conflict of interest unlikely. The third protester also objected to the awarding of the contract while its protest had not yet been settled. GAO held that, since high-level ICC officials determined that a prompt award was necessary, the award was not subject to GAO interruption. Accordingly, the first two protests were denied and the third protest was dismissed in part and denied in part.