[Protests of Forest Service Contract Awards for Mobile Food Services]

B-257547,B-257547.2,B-257547.3,B-257547.4: Oct 18, 1994

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Four firms protested several Forest Service contract awards for mobile food services, contending that: (1) the Service improperly evaluated the bids; (2) the Service was biased in favor of two of the awardees; (3) some bidders had access to additional information through their professional association; and (4) the Service held unequal discussions with the bidders. GAO held that: (1) the Forest Service improperly failed to consider one firm's discounted bid price for five locations and made an unreasonable cost-technical tradeoff decision for two locations based on that firm's undiscounted price; (2) the Service reasonably evaluated the other bids in accordance with the solicitation's evaluation criteria and properly made award to the technically superior bidders; (3) one protester untimely filed its protest of bidder access to additional information more than 10 days after it knew the basis of protest; and (4) there was no evidence that the Service was biased in favor of the awardees or held unequal discussions with the bidders. Accordingly, three protests were denied and one protest was sustained, and GAO recommended that the Forest Service: (1) perform a proper cost-technical tradeoff analysis for the two locations; (2) terminate the relevant contracts and make award to the protester if otherwise appropriate; and (3) reimburse the protester for its bid and protest preparation costs.