[Protest of Customs Contract Award for Marine Vessel Maintenance]

B-278929.2,B-278929.4,B-278929.5,B-278929.6: Sep 28, 1998

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Three firms protested a Customs Service contract award for marine vessel maintenance, contending that Customs: (1) improperly made the award on the basis of the lowest-cost, technically acceptable offer, since all proposals were rated essentially equal despite allegedly obvious technical distinctions; (2) did not perform a cost realism analysis of the awardee's labor rates; (3) unreasonably evaluated its proposal under the corporate factor by deducting points for lack of experience and past performance; and (4) improperly awarded the contract to awardee, since it was acquired by another business prior to the award. GAO held that: (1) Customs reasonably determined that the proposals were technically equal; (2) the protesters were not prejudiced by Custom's failure to make certain upward adjustments to the awardee's rates; (3) Customs properly downgraded the protester's proposal because its newly formed corporation failed to demonstrate corporate experience; and (4) Customs properly made award to successor in interest to the firm that submitted the initial proposal, since the successor acquired the bidder's entire business. Accordingly, the protests were denied.