Protest of Proposal Rejection

B-196667: Mar 25, 1980

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A firm protested the rejection of its proposal for an advanced blade and cleaner for magnetic tape and requested that a stopwork order be issued during the pendency of the protest. It argued that the agency did not discuss the offer with it prior to making the award and that it was not given information about the results of the evaluation before the award was made. The request for proposals (RFP) contained the standard brand name or equal clause and several salient characteristics. The protester's proposal was rejected because it's product failed to meet the six salient characteristics. An agency reevaluation of the proposal after the protest was filed concluded that the product failed to satisfy only two of the specified characteristics. GAO found that although the original reason for rejecting the protester's offer was wrong, a valid basis existed for the rejection of the offer. The solicitation required that a proposed product have a minimum 96 percent tape cleaning efficiency. In a letter accompanying its proposal, the protester stated that it had modified its equipment to achieve 96 percent cleaning efficiency. However, the descriptive literature, also furnished with its proposal, specified a 90 percent cleaning efficiency, which remained unchanged. Therefore, GAO concluded that the agency had a proper basis for rejecting the offer. With respect to the complaint that the agency did not discuss the offer with the protester prior to award, it was noted that the agency did not conduct discussions with the awardee, and that the award was made on an initial proposal basis pursuant to standard solicitation instructions and conditions. According to Defense Acquisition Regulations, it is not necessary for the agency to inform bidders of the results of proposed evaluation before award is made when a contract is to be awarded within a few days. The issuance of a stopwork order during the pendency of the protest was held to be a discretionary matter for the contracting agency. Accordingly, the protest was denied.