Protest Against Bid Exclusion From the Competitive Range

B-198614: Sep 3, 1980

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A firm protested the exclusion of its bid proposal for Helicopter Operations Development Program technical support from the competitive range. The request for proposals prescribed three evaluation factors: technical, business management, and cost. Technical considerations were to be paramount. The firm's proposal ranked last among four proposals and was considered technically unacceptable. The proposal's deficiencies reflected an inadequate understanding of the solicitation and a lack of technical qualification to perform satisfactorily as a support contractor. The agency considered the deficiencies to be so significant that a major effort would be required to remove the weaknesses. The firm alleged that the deficiencies were minor and correctable and that its proposal should have been included in the competitive range. The determination of whether a proposal is within the competitive range, particularly with respect to technical considerations, is primarily a matter of administrative discretion. GAO cannot conclude that the agency's evaluation was unreasonable. Unlike the protester, the other offerors apparently had no difficulty discerning from the request for proposals the significant matters that were required to be discussed in detail. The proposal could not have been corrected without substantial revision since the firm failed to translate its knowledge and capabilities into the initial proposal. The protester alleged that the agency applied evaluation criteria different from those of the request for proposals. GAO found no factual basis for this allegation. Allegations that the request for proposal specifications were incomplete were judged untimely since the method of evaluation was readily apparent on the request for proposals, and allegations of solicitation improprieties must be filed before the closing date for receipt of initial proposals. The protest was denied in part and dismissed in part.