Protests Against Termination Negotiations

B-198851: Sep 3, 1980

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

A firm protested the termination of negotiations for an architect-engineer contract. The firm had been selected as the firm most qualified, when the agency discovered that the firm did not accurately report the size of its staff. The agency rescinded the selection, and negotiations were terminated. The firm contended that it had the required staff available and that the advertisement for the contract did not indicate that a full-time staff would be required. The firm had stated that a total staff of 14 would be available for the project. An agency auditor's visit to the firm discovered that only 5 people were employed by the firm from January through April 1979, and that the firm had no payroll thereafter. The agency contended that the selection official properly disregarded the recommendation of the evaluation board when the information on which the selection recommendation was based proved to be inaccurate. The firm contended that, although it did not have the staff employed, it did have a qualified staff available on an as needed basis. The firm stated that the small size of the projects would require no more than two engineers, and additional part-time employees and professional assistance could be obtained on a contract basis. GAO did not feel that an agency must continue a procurement after it discovers the information upon which the selection was based is inaccurate. Since the selection official is not obligated to follow the recommendation of the solicitation board, his decision to change the ranking of the firm under these circumstances did not seem to be arbitrary. There was no need for considering the firm's request for compensation for loss of fee and for damages. The protest was denied.