Protest Against Amendment as Unduly Restrictive

B-195741: Feb 12, 1980

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A firm protested an amendment to a request for proposals (RFP) for an underwater television camera. The protester alleged that the amendment should not have been issued after receipt of initial proposals, that it rendered the specifications unduly restrictive, and that its purpose was the exclusion of all offerors but one from this procurement. The RFP was issued containing a brand name or equal purchase description. Upon receipt of the proposals, the agency discovered it had inadvertently failed to specify certain salient features of the brand name equipment and issued the protested amendment. In questioning the propriety of changing the specifications after bid opening, the protester's reference to bid opening indicated that it had misunderstood the procedures applicable to this procurement. This term applies to advertised procurements, not negotiated procurements as was the case here. In negotiated procurements, an RFP may be revised after receipt of initial proposals when it becomes necessary to insure that the Government's needs will be satisfied. GAO has recognized that Government procurement officials are generally in the best position to know the Government's actual needs and, therefore, are best able to draft appropriate specifications. Consequently, GAO does not question an agency's determination of what its minimum needs are unless there is a clear showing that the determination has no reasonable basis. The protester offered no evidence to show that the agency's requirements were unreasonable. GAO found that the revised specifications were not unduly restrictive of competition. They reflected the agency's minimum needs and did not represent an attempt to exclude other offerors from the competition. Therefore, the protest was denied.