Protest Against Contract Award

B-197302: Jun 12, 1980

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A firm protested the award of an Air Force contract for contractor-operated civil engineering stores. The protest was directed against the manner in which these procurements are conducted. An offeror is required to quote individual prices on thousands of separtate items. The protester argued that (1) there is not a full enough description of most line items given, (2) specifications which call for "brand names or equal" unduly restrict solicitations, and (3) offerors are not given enough time to complete the line item information required for each procurement package. The firm contended that the sheer size of these procurements discourages many qualified contractors, especially small businesses. The protester suggested that the requests for proposals be reissued and call for a fixed-price management fee with materials to be furnished on a cost-no-fee basis. This system, the firm contended, would stimulate maximum competition and ensure the lowest possible price to the Government. The agency pointed out that it extended its normal preparation period, in this instance, and two small business firms were able to submit bids in the time allotted. GAO found no basis to question the agency's procurement structure, as the determination of the minimal needs of a contracting agency and the methods of accomodating these needs are the responsibility of the agency. The only requirement is that no offeror enjoy a competitive advantage as the result of a preference or unfair action by the Government. In this case, there was no evidence of unfair competition. The protest was denied.