R4 Integration, Inc.
B-407580.4: Dec 16, 2013
- Full Report:
R4 Integration, Inc., of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, protests the corrective action proposed by the Department of State in connection with the agency's procurement of passenger aircraft under request for proposals (RFP) No. SAQMMA-12-R-0215. The corrective action is being taken in response to an earlier protest of the award of a contract to R4 for the aircraft.
We deny the protest.
Matter of: R4 Integration, Inc.
Date: December 16, 2013
Protest objecting to proposed corrective action taken in response to earlier protest of contract award is denied where one of the bases for cancellation is that the agency must reassess its requirement in light of shifting priorities and funding availability.
R4 Integration, Inc., of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, protests the corrective action proposed by the Department of State in connection with the agencys procurement of passenger aircraft under request for proposals (RFP) No. SAQMMA-12-R-0215. The corrective action is being taken in response to an earlier protest of the award of a contract to R4 for the aircraft.
We deny the protest.
The solicitation sought proposals for the purchase of two (with an option for up to four additional) Beechcraft B1900D aircraft meeting various specifications, including that the planes have less than 25,000 flight hours and be equipped with autopilot and weather radar systems, among other things. RFP amend. 4 (revised) at 1, 7-9.
Of significance here, technical proposals were to include a copy of the current FAA/EASA/TC Airworthiness certificate for all aircraft proposed. Id. at 9, 30. The RFP advised, in response to questions from offerors, that alternate certifying agencies airworthiness certificates (other than FAA/EASA/TC airworthiness certificates) would not be acceptable. RFP, Questions & Answers, at 1.
The State Department received a number of proposals, including from R4 and TKC Aerospace, Inc., of Charlestown, South Carolina. See Contracting Officers Statement at 5-6. As relevant here, R4s proposal included current airworthiness certificates issued by the Directorates General of Civil Aviation of India and Indonesia. AR, Tab 5, R4 Tech. Proposal, at 89-90, 102-3. R4 did not submit airworthiness certificates from the FAA, EASA, or TC. The agency awarded the contract to R4.
TKC protested the award, arguing, among other things, that R4s proposal was technically unacceptable because its planes lacked current FAA/EASA/TC airworthiness certificates, as required by the solicitation. After reviewing TKCs protest, the State Department concluded that the award to R4 was, in fact, inconsistent with the requirement that offerors provide current FAA/EASA/TC airworthiness certificates, and the agency informed our Office that it intended to take corrective action in response to TKCs protest. The agency advised that it intended to terminate the award, reexamine and revise the requirements, and resolicit the aircraft in the near future. Our Office dismissed TKCs protest as academic based on the agencys proposed corrective action. TKC Aerospace, Inc., B-407580.3, Sept. 25, 2013.
R4 now protests the State Departments corrective action, arguing that it is based on a misreading of the term FAA/EASA/TC airworthiness certificate. Protest at 1-2; Comments at 2, 4. In the protesters view, FAA/EASA/TC, as used in the RFP, is an illustrative, not exclusive, list of acceptable airworthiness certifications from jurisdictions that have bilateral aviation safety agreements with the U.S., such as the EU and Canada, as well as India and Indonesia. Comments at 4.
The State Department disputes the protesters interpretation of the certification provision, and now asserts that the agency must reassess its requirement in view of shifting priorities and funding availability, as well as its experience in attempting to procure this particular type of aircraft. AR at 9.
We need not resolve the parties conflicting interpretation of the RFPs airworthiness certification provision, or the reasonableness of the State Departments corrective action in that regard, because the agencys decision to reassess its requirement in light of shifting priorities and funding availability otherwise establishes a reasonable basis for cancelling the contract award to R4. See, e.g., Optimum Servs., Inc., B-401051, Apr. 15, 2009, 2009 CPD ¶ 85 at 3-4 (agency reasonably terminated protesters contract and cancelled underlying solicitation where solicitation no longer reflected the agencys requirements due to program funding.); KGL Logistics, B-404340, Jan. 26, 2011, 2011 CPD ¶ 60 at 2-3 (cancellation reasonable where agency must reassess its needs before proceeding with the procurement); VSE Corp., B-290452.2, Apr. 11, 2005, 2005 CPD ¶ 111 at 6 (reasonable basis for cancellation exists and cancellation is appropriate when a solicitation does not accurately reflect the agencys requirements).
The protest is denied.
Susan A. Poling
 That is, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and its European Union (EU) and Canadian counterparts--the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Transport Canada (TC). Agency Report (AR) at 2.
 One of R4s proposed planes is registered and operated in India; the other is registered and operated in Indonesia. See Comments at 1-2.
 The protester does not dispute the agencys assertion that it must reassess its requirement. See generally Comments.
 Even if an agencys initial justification for cancellation is unreasonable, that fact is immaterial, provided that another, proper, basis for cancellation exists, such as uncertainty regarding the agencys future needs. KGL Logistics, supra; see also Alden Elec., Inc.--Recon., B-224160.2, B-224161.2, Mar. 12, 1987, 87-1 CPD ¶ 277 at 5 (agency properly may justify cancellation on subsequently enunciated basis if that basis would have supported the action had it been raised by the agency initially).