Protest Concerning RFP Issuance by NASA

B-193241: Apr 10, 1979

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International Computaprint Corporation protested a request for proposals (RFP) issued by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for personnel, services, and supplies to support the NASA Scientific and Technical Information Facility. Although the RFP was issued on a cost-plus-award-fee basis, International Computaprint contended that it should have been issued under formal advertising procedures, and that the stated "phase-in period" was so brief that it unnecessarily restricted competition. NASA asserted that formal advertising would not have been feasible because the exact nature of the desired work could not be precisely described or illustrated. Only through negotiations, NASA claimed, could the Government evaluate a contractor's technical capability, understanding of the task, and other essential factors. Although prior GAO decisions were presented by the protester in support of its complaint, GAO will not substitute its judgment for that of the procuring agency as to the method of procurement. The protest regarding the 60-day phase-in period rested on the protester's judgment that its brevity afforded an unfair advantage to the incumbent contractor. NASA responded with precedents for a 60-day phase-in, the number of competitive offerors (six) which had accepted the time limitation; the lack of any scoring advantage to the incumbent contractor in the technical evaluation of proposals; and the probability that an extended phase-in would increase costs. GAO recognizes the advantage of contract incumbency, but only questions this advantage when it results from unfair Government action. Since GAO did not find that the 60-day phase-in requirement exceeded the Government's needs, the protest was denied.