Protest Involving Bid Specifications

B-197628: Jun 9, 1980

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A firm protested the award of a Coast Guard contract for an air compressor contending that the awardee's bid was nonresponsive because its failed to acknowledge an amendment to the solicitation and its equipment did not meet the bid specifications. The invitation for bids (IFB) specified an air compressor capable of delivering pressure at 175-200 pounds per square inch (psi). However, the Coast Guard maintained that its specification was not intended to require a compressor capable of achieving 200 psi, but only required a compressor with a performance of at least 175 psi. It is common commercial practice for pressure levels to be stated in terms of a range such as 140-175 psi or 175-200 psi. GAO found that the specification clearly stated a range of 175-200 psi and would be capable of achieving a maximum pressure level of 200 psi. Further, the fact that the awardee told the Coast Guard that it would change the pressure switch setting on its equipment from 140-175 psi to 175-200 psi, which indicated that it was generally understood that the specification called for a range of 175-200 psi. GAO held that the awardee's bid was nonresponsive, and The protest was sustained. However, because the equipment was delivered and the contract was fully performed, GAO was unable to recommend any corrective action.