Protest Alleging Awardee's Bid Was Nonresponsive

B-192478: Jun 19, 1980

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A firm alleged that a contract award winner's low bid should have been rejected as nonresponsive because the equipment proposed by the firm did not comply with contract design specifications. Substitution of acceptable equipment, they claimed, violated established principles of competitive bidding, applicable Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, and State and Federal law. EPA questioned GAO jurisdiction to consider the merits of this complaint, and since the Regional Administrator of EPA had reviewed this matter they felt that no purpose would be served by a GAO review. EPA also contended that litigation pending before a Federal Distric court was a barrier to consideration of the complaint. GAO felt that its review was appropriate and the litigation was no barrier as it involved issues which were outside of this complaint. Notwithstanding the EPA Administrator's findings that the grantee should request additional information from the awardee, the grantee made the award. Both the grantee and EPA have rejected protests from the complaining firm. By awarding a contract to a firm whose equipment did not meet the design requirements listed in the solicitation, the awardee was given an unfair advantage. GAO felt that the grantee's award decision was inconsistent with basic Federal principles which require award to a responsive bidder. Due to delays, GAO files on this matter were not adequately developed until the performance of the contract had been virtually completed. It was not feasible for GAO to recommend corrective action; however, the attention of the EPA Administrator was directed to the GAO conclusion reached in this case.

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