Matter of: Halifax Technical Services, Inc. File: B-246236.4 Date: January 5, 1993

B-246236.4: Jan 5, 1993

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PROCUREMENT Bid Protests Antitrust matters GAO review PROCUREMENT Bid Protests Private disputes GAO review Protester's contention that one offeror is receiving preferential treatment over other offerors because an insurance company has agreed to provide the same coverage to the one offeror as the insurance company provides to the incumbent protester is dismissed because any favorable treatment received here is the result of action by a private party. The protester's allegation that the insurance company's actions possibly violate the antitrust laws is a matter for the Department of Justice. Inc. protests that Bendix Field Engineering Corporation is receiving an unfair advantage over other offerors in an ongoing competition pursuant to request for proposals (RFP) No.

Matter of: Halifax Technical Services, Inc. File: B-246236.4 Date: January 5, 1993

PROCUREMENT Bid Protests Antitrust matters GAO review PROCUREMENT Bid Protests Private disputes GAO review Protester's contention that one offeror is receiving preferential treatment over other offerors because an insurance company has agreed to provide the same coverage to the one offeror as the insurance company provides to the incumbent protester is dismissed because any favorable treatment received here is the result of action by a private party, not the government, and the protester's allegation that the insurance company's actions possibly violate the antitrust laws is a matter for the Department of Justice.

Attorneys

DECISION Halifax Technical Services, Inc. protests that Bendix Field Engineering Corporation is receiving an unfair advantage over other offerors in an ongoing competition pursuant to request for proposals (RFP) No. M67004-90-R-0094, issued by the U.S. Marine Corps, for the maintenance of assets aboard ships associated with the Maritime Prepositioning Forces (MPF).

We dismiss the protest.

Halifax is the current contractor providing MPF services for the Marine Corps. In a supplemental protest filed upon receipt of the agency's report provided in response to a broader ongoing challenge by Halifax to the terms of the solicitation used in this procurement, Halifax complains that the record shows that an unfair advantage has been conferred on Bendix by an insurance company. Specifically, Halifax claims that the insurer it has used while performing its existing contract for these services has provided only Bendix, but not other offerors, with employee health benefits identical to those provided by Halifax. As a result, Halifax complains that Bendix will have an advantage over other offerors, who presumably will not be able to match the employee benefits offered by Halifax at the same cost. Since the cost of employee benefits may be a major variable among the offerors in this procurement, Halifax argues that the insurance company may be in a position to affect the outcome of this competition.

There are a number of reasons why the issue raised by Halifax will not be considered by our Office. First, under the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984, 31 U.S.C. Sec. 3552 (1988), our Office is authorized to decide a "protest concerning an alleged violation of a procurement statute or regulation" by a federal agency. Halifax's contention that Bendix is receiving preferential treatment from an insurance carrier does not involve action by a federal agency and does not fall within our jurisdiction to resolve protests against agency action. See Beall Plumbing and Heating Co.--Recon., B-243230.2, July 23, 1991, 91-2 CPD Para. 84. Rather, this matter essentially concerns a dispute between private parties which we will not adjudicate in the context of a protest. See MR Resources, B-242475, Feb. 14, 1991, 91-1 CPD Para. 176.

Second, as stated above, Halifax argues only that the insurer has declined to extend coverage to other offerors participating in the competition. In our view, Halifax itself cannot claim to have been prejudiced in any way by the insurance company's purported decision to offer employee health insurance coverage for Bendix that is identical to the coverage provided by Halifax, while not offering an identical health insurance package to other offerors. Accordingly, to the extent that Halifax argues that the evaluation scheme in the solicitation is defective because it allows the insurer to "improperly favor one contractor over another," Halifax is not an interested party to raise this issue. See 4 C.F.R. Sec. 21.0(a) (1992). Finally, to the extent that Halifax is alleging that the insurance company involved is restraining trade or acting in possible violation of the antitrust laws by not making the same insurance package available to other offerors, this matter is outside the scope of the bid protest process. Alleged violations of the antitrust laws should be referred to the Department of Justice, not our forum, since the interpretation and enforcement of such laws are functions of the Attorney General and the federal courts. See generally Federal Acquisition Regulation Sec. 3.301; Society Brand, Inc. et al., 55 Comp.Gen. 475 (1975), 75-2 CPD Para. 327.

The protest is dismissed.