Protest of VA Refusal To Consider Proposal

B-195827: Mar 31, 1980

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A firm protested the refusal of the Veterans Administration (VA) to consider its proposal submitted in response to a solicitation for the monitoring of cardiac pacemakers implanted in VA hospital patients. VA refused to consider the protester's proposal because (1) the protester was organizationally affiliated with the manufacturer of more than 50 percent of the pacemakers implanted in VA patients and could therefore not be considered an impartial evaluator, and (2) the protester's monitoring system emphasized the performance of the patient's heart and the pacemaker as a whole, whereas the solicitation specified a system for monitoring only the performance of the pacemaker. The protester contended that (1) there was no evidence that its relationship with the manufacturer would adversely affect the objectivity and accuracy with which it could provide its pacemaker monitoring service, (2) all of the information necessary to determine the performance of the pacemaker would be available to the physician using its monitoring system, and (3) VA negotiated the solicitation in a noncompetitive manner in making an award. Procuring activities have a legitimate interest in protecting the Government from awarding a contract to a firm having an organizational conflict of interest where the conflict of interest is not merely theoretical. Considering the protester's connection with the manufacturer of 50 percent of the pacemakers and the direct connection between such a system and the health of VA patients, the decision not to consider the protester's proposal was reasonable. VA pointed out that since the procurement was contemplated on a multiple award basis, sufficient competition would be obtained to conform to applicable Federal procurement regulations. Accordingly, the protest was denied.