[Protest of Navy Use of Prequalification Procedure in Connection With Facility Construction IFB]

B-218268: Jun 3, 1985

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A firm protested the Navy's use of a prequalification procedure in connection with an invitation for bids (IFB) for medical facility construction. After the protester requested and received a prequalification questionnaire, it filed a protest with the Navy, contending that the use of any prequalification procedure was improper and unduly restricted competition. However, the protest was filed a month after the questionnaire was due. GAO found that, in order to be timely, the protest should have been filed before the date set for receipt of the questionnaire; therefore, the protest to the Navy was untimely as was its subsequent protest to GAO. Furthermore, the protest failed to fall within the exception for bid protest timeliness rules, since the propriety of prequalification procedures had been considered in previous decisions. Finally, GAO found the argument that a comparison of the responsibility standards set out in the IFB showed that the prequalification criteria unduly restricted competition was without merit, and there was no reason for the standards in the IFB to incorporate the prequalification criteria. Accordingly, the protest was dismissed in part and denied in part, and the protester's request for recovery of the costs of pursuing the protest was disallowed.