Protest of Elimination From Competitive Range

B-197245: Sep 9, 1980

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A firm protested its elimination from the competitive range by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for a contract for maintenance and support services. The protester alleged that the NASA Source Evaluation Board (SEB) members were unqualified to evaluate proposals for the project and that NASA officials were biased against the protester, a female-owned company. GAO does not make determinations as to the relative merits of technical proposals. That function is the responsibility of the contracting agency. This also applies to reviews of competitive range determinations. The request for proposals prohibited the use of Government-owned computer services for the contractor's internal use. However, the protester's bid was unclear as to its proposed use of its own computer; it implied an intent to use both its own and NASA computers. Thus, NASA interpreted the proposal as proposing the prohibited use of Government computer equipment and programs. GAO could not take exception to the NASA position in regard to this. Overall, the record showed that the protester had major weaknesses in all areas of proposal evaluation unrelated to the computer problem. Its technical evaluation score was one-third as high as the highest ranked offeror and only half as high as the lowest ranked offeror. GAO could not question the exclusion of the proposal on this ground. There was no basis to question the evaluators' qualifications in this case. The allegation of bias on the part of NASA officials was not supported by the record, since the protester did not show the evaluation to be arbitrary. Accordingly, the protest was denied.