B-234074.2, Jun 6, 1989

B-234074.2: Jun 6, 1989

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PROCUREMENT - Sealed Bidding - Bids - Responsiveness - Brand name/equal specifications - Equivalent products DIGEST: Bid proposing equal product under brand name or equal invitation for bids for an air compressor and associated equipment is nonresponsive when the bid fails to establish that the product to be supplied will include an air receiver as required in the solicitation specifications. One of the specification requirements for the air compressor was that it be equipped with a "storage tank ... 60 gallon receiver. Also included in the IFB was a clause entitled "Brand Name or Equal" which provided. That: "Bids offering 'equal' products ... will be considered for award if such products are clearly identified in the bids and are determined by the Government to meet fully the salient characteristics requirements referenced in the Invitation for Bids.".

B-234074.2, Jun 6, 1989

PROCUREMENT - Sealed Bidding - Bids - Responsiveness - Brand name/equal specifications - Equivalent products DIGEST: Bid proposing equal product under brand name or equal invitation for bids for an air compressor and associated equipment is nonresponsive when the bid fails to establish that the product to be supplied will include an air receiver as required in the solicitation specifications.

Calculus, Inc.:

Calculus, Inc., protests the rejection of its apparent low bid and the award of a contract to Vallen Safety Supply Co., under invitation for bids (IFB) No. F41800-88-B-7137, issued by the Aerospace Nursing Branch of the Department of the Air Force for a high pressure air compressor. /1/

We deny the protest.

The invitation called for an "air compressor, high pressure to include dryer, filter and air lines, Ingersoll-Rand Model 15t2X15 or equal and in accordance with attached specifications, statement of work and drawings." The IFB provided the salient characteristics for the required equipment in the specification section. One of the specification requirements for the air compressor was that it be equipped with a "storage tank ... 60 gallon receiver, capable of a 400 psi (pounds per square inch) working pressure." Also included in the IFB was a clause entitled "Brand Name or Equal" which provided, in pertinent part, that:

"Bids offering 'equal' products ... will be considered for award if such products are clearly identified in the bids and are determined by the Government to meet fully the salient characteristics requirements referenced in the Invitation for Bids."

Five bids were received and opened on October 17, 1988. Calculus was the lowest bidder at $26,400 and Vallen Safety Supply Co. was the second lowest bidder at $28,037. Calculus offered a Bauer KW-15 compressor on the bid schedule and in its descriptive literature offered a Pioneer Air Systems, Inc., air dryer. However, nowhere in Calculus' bid did it mention that it would supply an air receiver. After reviewing Calculus' submissions, the contracting agency determined that Calculus had failed to establish that it was offering an acceptable equal product, since it did not identify the air receiver it would supply. Consequently, Calculus' bid was rejected as nonresponsive.

In its protest Calculus alleges that not only did it and Vallen offer to furnish the identical air compressor, but both supplied the same descriptive literature. Calculus also argues that the IFB did not require the listing of actual equipment to be supplied and, therefore, its bid should not have been found to be nonresponsive. In response, the agency notes that all other bidders in the instant competition listed the actual equipment to be supplied, that this was required by the IFB and Calculus did not, although Vallen did, identify an air receiver in its bid.

In a brand name or equal IFB, bids offering "equal" products must conform to the salient characteristics of the brand name equipment listed in the solicitation in order to be regarded as responsive. Volumetrics, Inc., B-228745, Oct. 23, 1987, 87-2 CPD Para. 391. A bidder must submit with its bid sufficient descriptive literature to permit the contracting agency to assess whether the equal product meets all the salient characteristics specified in the solicitation. If the descriptive literature or other information reasonably available to the contracting activity does not show compliance with all salient characteristics, the bid must be rejected. Id.

Since Calculus bid an "equal" product, the Bauer compressor KW-15, it had to clearly demonstrate to the agency that its bid constituted an offer to meet all the salient characteristics listed in the specifications. Although Calculus supplied descriptive literature on the Bauer KW-15 compressor, the record indicates that the KW-15 compressor does not necessarily include an air receiver. In contrast, Vallen's bid schedule indicated it would supply a "Hanson H5-6OF air receiver." Since Calculus failed to establish that its bid included an air receiver, one of the salient characteristics specifically required by the specifications, it would not be bound to furnish an air receiver. Volumetrics, Inc., B-228745, supra, at 2. Consequently, the rejection of Calculus' bid as nonresponsive was proper since the descriptive material submitted by Calculus did not establish that its offered product met the IFB requirements.

The protest is denied.

/1/ Calculus initially filed a protest in our Office on January 9, 1989, but we dismissed the protest on March 9, 1989, pursuant to 4 C.F.R. Sec. 21.3(h) (1988), since we found the protester failed to file comments after the agency report was submitted. Since Calculus provided this Office with some evidence that it did in fact timely submit comments, we have reopened the file.