[Protests of USIA Contract Award for a General Services Contract]

B-218424,B-218424.2,B-218424.3: Aug 1, 1985

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Two firms protested a contract award to another firm under a U.S. Information Agency (USIA) solicitation for support services for an international exposition in Canada, contending that: (1) USIA failed to apply certain definitive responsibility criteria requiring offerers to possess exposition management experience; and (2) USIA evaluated the awardee's responsibility based on its subcontractors' past experience rather than on its own. The first protester also contended that: (1) USIA improperly favored the awardee because it was a Canadian firm; and (2) the USIA technical evaluators adjusted the technical scores to ensure that award would be made to the lowest cost offerer. The second protester also contended that USIA did not evaluate best and final offers but instead evaluated the discussions that occurred prior to their submission. GAO held that: (1) the solicitation did not establish definitive responsibility criteria because it advised bidders that past performance would be considered rather than specifically requiring bidders to possess exposition management experience; (2) USIA was not limited to considering the awardee's experience in determining its responsibility and properly considered the experience of the awardee's team of subcontractors as well as the protesters' teams; (3) USIA only awarded extra points to the awardee based on its nationality when the firm's nationality bore directly on its ability to perform the required services; (4) there was no evidence that the technical scoring reflected anything other than the evaluators' reasoned judgment concerning the relative merits of the bids; and (5) since the second protester did not allege that the written best and final offers differed from those discussed, it was not prejudicial for USIA to consider the discussions. Accordingly, both protests were denied.