Matter of: National Mailing Systems, Inc. File: B-252578 Date: July 13, 1993

B-252578: Jul 13, 1993

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PROCUREMENT Special Procurement Methods/Categories Federal supply schedule Purchases Justification Minimum needs standards Agency properly purchased equipment from Federal Supply Schedule vendor where the agency reasonably determined that only that equipment will satisfy the agency's minimum needs. The delivery order was issued for a total price of $117. 562 was to be delivered to the Museum of Natural History in Washington. The videotape revealed that NMS's mailing equipment is semi- automatic and. Since NMS's equipment does not have these features. The determination of the agency's minimum needs and which products meet those needs is properly the agency's responsibility. Who are familiar with the conditions under which supplies and equipment have been and will be used.

Matter of: National Mailing Systems, Inc. File: B-252578 Date: July 13, 1993

PROCUREMENT Special Procurement Methods/Categories Federal supply schedule Purchases Justification Minimum needs standards Agency properly purchased equipment from Federal Supply Schedule vendor where the agency reasonably determined that only that equipment will satisfy the agency's minimum needs.

Attorneys

DECISION National Mailing Systems, Inc. (NMS) protests the issuance of delivery order No. FC9-2104890000 by the Smithsonian Institution for mailing equipment to Pitney Bowes, Inc. (PBI) under multiple award Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contract No. GS-OOF-7166A.

We deny the protest.

The agency issued the delivery order to PBI on September 29, 1992, to obtain various pieces of mailing equipment for 13 different locations. The delivery order was issued for a total price of $117,931; of that total, equipment worth $47,562 was to be delivered to the Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. The supplies for this location consisted of two machines offered by PBI called "Paragon," as well as accessories including, but not limited to, two Paragon tables, two cable kits, and two sets of accounting software. The supplies for the other 12 areas consisted primarily of mailing machines, electronic scales, rate sets, and tape trip kits.

Prior to issuing the delivery order, the agency met with representatives of NMS and PBI to discuss the technical capability of their respective mailing equipment. During the meeting with NMS, the contracting officer viewed a videotape provided by NMS to demonstrate the capabilities of its equipment; the videotape revealed that NMS's mailing equipment is semi- automatic and, thus, calls for an operator to load mail on the scale and then feed each piece of mail into the stamping machine.[1]

After analyzing PBI's mailing equipment, the Smithsonian determined that it included features that the agency required, including the fully automatic Weigh on the Way (WOW) feature--which allows the user to weigh and post articles at the same time, without regard to size, at a fast rate. Since NMS's equipment does not have these features, the Smithsonian concluded that only PBI's mailing equipment met its mail handling needs.

NMS challenges the Smithsonian's decision to place an order with PBI, arguing that the agency improperly determined that only PBI's equipment meets the agency's needs.

The determination of the agency's minimum needs and which products meet those needs is properly the agency's responsibility. Government procurement officials, who are familiar with the conditions under which supplies and equipment have been and will be used, are generally in the best position to know what constitutes their minimum needs. Systematics, Inc., B-222559, July 24, 1986, 86-2 CPD Para. 105. Thus, our Office will only examine the agency's assessment of its needs to ensure that it had a reasonable basis. National Mailing Sys., B-250441, Jan. 28, 1993, 93-1 CPD Para. 75.

Here, the Smithsonian reports that the mailing equipment will be used to meet a U.S. Postal Service mandate that all government entities use metered mail. As a result of this mandate, all of the Smithsonian's outgoing mail must be handled by its central mail office which, according to the agency, is understaffed. The Smithsonian explains that the fully automatic WOW feature of PBI's equipment--which, as explained above, allows the user to weigh and post articles at the same time without regard to size--is required to meet its needs because, unlike NMS's semi- automatic equipment, it will allow the agency's small staff to efficiently perform its increased mail handling responsibilities.

The protester does not argue that the Smithsonian does not require these capabilities or that PBI's equipment does not possess them, and, other than a general statement that its equipment would meet the agency's minimum needs, does not assert that its equipment possesses fully automatic capabilities similar to PBI's WOW feature. Based on the record here, it is reasonable to conclude that NMS's semi-automatic equipment will require increased staff presence--that is not necessary with PBI's equipment--because staff members must manually feed each piece of mail into the stamping machine. Accordingly, we have no basis for questioning the Smithsonian's determination that only PBI's mailing equipment meets its minimum needs. See id.; A.B. Dick Co., B-220144, Nov. 26, 1985, 85-2 CPD Para. 606.

The Smithsonian also cited other justifications for its decision that only PBI's equipment will meet its needs, such as the mail handling speed of the equipment. Given our conclusion that the Smithsonian's decision to place the order with PBI was reasonable based on its need for the fully automatic WOW feature, we need not consider these other justifications.

The protester contends that the issuance of the delivery order to PBI was improper because the award price exceeded the maximum ordering limitation for these items. Given our conclusion that the agency reasonably determined that only PBI's equipment will meet the agency's needs, NMS would not be eligible for award even if we were to sustain the protest on this ground. Accordingly, it is not an interested party to raise this issue. See Dictaphone Corp., B-248221.3, Dec. 23, 1992, 92-2 CPD Para. 423.

The protest is denied.

1. The Smithsonian states that, because it concluded that NMS' equipment did not meet its needs, it did not perform a price comparison of NMS' and PBI's equipment. NMS has provided no evidence that its equipment is lower priced than PBI's. Assuming that NMS's equipment in fact is not lower priced, the Smithsonian was under no obligation to consider it. See Federal Acquisition Regulation Sec. 8.405-1; Garratt-Callahan Co., B-246895, Apr. 8, 1992, 92-1 CPD Para. 352.