[Protest of Army Cancellation of IFB]

B-209704.2: Mar 31, 1983

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A firm protested an Army cancellation of an invitation for bids (IFB) for a quantity of weapons and related accessories. The IFB schedule listed five separate contract line items and specified that bids would be evaluated on the basis of advantages to the Government that might result from making multiple awards and that individual awards would be for the items or combination of items which resulted in the lowest cost to the Government. In addition, the IFB required offerers to bid on all items in the solicitation. The low bidder on one item had submitted a bid on only two items. The Army contended that it intended to issue a solicitation to make a single award to the low responsive bidder for all items at the low aggregate price. However, because of conflicting evaluation provisions, and to avoid prejudice to any of the bidders, the contracting officer decided to cancel the solicitation and resolicit the requirement with a single award provision. The protester contended that there was no reason for cancellation, that the solicitation was not ambiguous, and that the low bidder submitted a nonresponsive bid by failing to insert prices for all items. Moreover, the protester contended that cancellation and resolicitation after exposure of its bid would have a prejudicial effect. GAO will not question the authority of a contracting officer to reject all bids and resolicit when a compelling reason exists to do so. However, GAO has held that the use of deficient provisions is not a compelling reason to cancel an IFB and resolicit, unless award under the solicitation as issued would not serve the needs of the Government and would prejudice other bidders. GAO found that the solicitation as issued would serve the needs of the Government and that competition would not be prejudiced by an award to the protester under the initial solicitation. Therefore, GAO held that the solicitation was erroneously canceled and found that the circumstances of the procurement lent themselves to reinstatement. Accordingly, the protest was sustained, and GAO recommended that the resolicitation be canceled and award be made under the initial solicitation.