Protest Alleging Improper Award of Contract

B-195778: Feb 20, 1980

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A firm protested the award to a competing firm of a National Park Service motion picture contract. The protester contended that the award was improper because the awardee had a competitive advantage as the result of a prior project it performed for the agency and because the protester's technically qualified offer was the lower priced offer. The protester also contended that its proposal was improperly downgraded because it followed the advice of an agency official and that adequate discussions were not conducted by the Park Service. Finally, the firm maintained that the awardee's proposal should have been downgraded for that firm's failure to include data relating to its proposed level of effort in its technical proposal as required. The Park Service contended that the protester could not provide written identification of specific technical or business management items that required clarification of the RFP and thus denied its request for a preproposal conference. Also, the Park Service said that the prior experience of the awardee was on an entirely different project requiring different skills and resources. Concerning the omission of level of effort data, the Park Service contended that the omission would not impact on the technical evaluation since the level of effort was reflected in the cost proposals. GAO held that: (1) the request for a preproposal conference was properly denied since accommodation would have conferred the protester with a competitive advantage; (2) the Government was not required to equalize competitive advantages enjoyed by an offeror as a result of the award of prior contracts; (3) failure of the awardee to include level of effort data was inconsequential since inclusion was not required and the information was available from the cost proposal; (4) the Park Service's downgrading of the protester's proposal for offering an approach outside the scope of the RFP was not unreasonable where the record did not establish that an agency official advised that such an approach would be acceptable; (5) there was no abuse of discretion in the award to a higher priced offeror where the RFP provided that the technical evaluation factors took precedence over cost; and (6) the allegation of inadequacies in the negotiation process was untimely since it was not filed within 10 days from the date on which the basis for the allegation was known. Therefore, the protest was denied in part and dismissed in part.