Allegation That Solicitation Failed To Provide Sufficient Information

B-194110: Jan 9, 1980

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A firm protested the award of a contract for furnishing, installing, and maintaining an automatic telephone system at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The firm contended that the solicitation did not provide sufficient information to allow it to prepare its proposal intelligently and that it favored the local telephone company, which had installed and maintained the existing system and had exclusive access to details of that system. The firm attended a tour of the Academy held for offerers and was notified of a deadline for written questions. It did not submit a proposal. Three other firms made detailed site examinations and four timely proposals were submitted. The firm argued that the contracting agency should have provided offerers with detailed records concerning the existing system and the requirements for the new system. The protester contended that the information provided to it was defective since it did not advise offerers of the Government's actual needs and that the Coast Guard withheld detailed records which it had requested. The Coast Guard argued that sufficient information was contained in the request for proposals or was available to offerers who wished to examine the work site and that no information useful to the offerers was held back and no offerer was given a preference. The Coast Guard acknowledged that the firm maintaining the existing system had detailed plant, cable, and equipment records by virtue of its presence at the Academy, but maintained that those records were the property of the carrier and not available to the Government for dissemination. It contended that the records in question were merely site plans and that they were provided to the protester. GAO held that the solicitation provided sufficient information for the offerers to compete intelligently and on equal terms and that the protester did not prove that necessary information was withheld. GAO held that the Government did not have to compensate for any advantage the existing contractor held since this advantage did not result from a preference or unfair action. Finally, since the firm attended the tour of the Academy and was informed of the deadline for written questions, GAO held that it had sufficient opportunity to obtain further information concerning the Coast Guard's requirements. The protest was denied.