[Protest Against USDA Contract Award for Label Machines]

B-226939,B-226939.2,B-226939.3,B-227252: Aug 31, 1987

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Three firms protested a Department of Agriculture (USDA) contract award to another firm for label machines. The first protester contended that USDA improperly determined that its offer failed to comply with the solicitation's commercial product requirement. All three protesters contended that USDA improperly awarded the contract, since the: (1) awardee's response to an amendment was late; (2) awardee's proposal did not respond to a requirement for installation and training manuals; (3) test demonstration of the awardee's product showed that it was deficient; and (4) contracting officer was incompetent and biased. GAO held that: (1) USDA reasonably determined that the first protester's product did not meet requirements, since the protester did not show that its offered model was similar in design and construction to the required product; (2) USDA properly rejected the second protester's bid, since its product did not meet certain standards; and (3) since the second protester was not in line for award, it was not sufficiently interested to protest. GAO also held that: (1) USDA erroneously dated the awardee's timely response to the amendment; (2) the awardee's proposal did include the required manuals; (3) it would not question the USDA determination that the awardee's product complied with operational requirements, since USDA tested the product before award; and (4) the allegation that the contracting officer was biased and incompetent was merely speculative. Accordingly, the first protest was denied in part and dismissed in part, the second protest was dismissed, and the third protest was denied in part and dismissed in part.