Protest of HHS Contract Award

B-198274: Sep 11, 1980

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A firm protested the award of a contract. The request for proposals was issued as a 100-percent small business set-aside procurement for the National Institute on Aging to support the 1981 White House Conference on Aging. The firm argued that the contract should be terminated because the awardee had been determined to be other than a small business for this procurement; the request for proposals should not have included the alternate late proposal provision; the technical advantage exception of the provision was improperly applied to allow consideration of the late proposal submitted by the awardee; the awardee was in fact a front for a large business; and even if its protest to GAO was untimely, the protest raised a significant issue exception to the timeliness rules. The awardee submitted a late proposal indicating that a firm which had been excluded from consideration because it was determined to be a large business would be a subcontractor. The request for proposals allowed late proposals if they offered significant cost or technical advantages to the Government. The protester protested the awardee's status as a small business because of its affiliation with a firm which had been found to be a large business. A finding by the Small Business Administration (SBA) that the awardee was a small business concern for purposes of this procurement was appealed to the SBA Size Appeals Board, and a decision is pending. GAO did not believe the contract award should be terminated if SBA decides that the awardee is not a small business. GAO could not question the agency's position that any disruption of the contract might seriously impair the agency's ability to perform all the required tasks before the 1981 conference. All of the other grounds for protest were untimely filed with the GAO office. The matter was not for consideration on the basis that it was a significant issue concerning matters of widespread interest to the procurement community.