Protest of Bid Rejection as Nonresponsive

B-198727: Oct 16, 1980

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A firm protested the rejection of its bid for guard services by the Customs Service, the subsequent cancellation of the invitation for bids (IFB), and the resolicitation of the procurement. The protester contended that the Customs Service was wrong to cancel the IFB on the basis that there were no responsive bids because the information it failed to furnish had no bearing on its responsiveness. The record showed that the IFB was a small business set-aside and that three bids were received under the IFB. Each was rejected for a different reason. The protester's bid was rejected because it failed to furnish certain information relative to its licensing status that was requested in the IFB. The other bids were rejected because they were late and one firm did not qualify as a small business. Since the Customs Service determined that there were no responsive bidders, the IFB was canceled and the procurement was resolicited. GAO held that the protester's failure to furnish certain information relative to its licensing status had no bearing upon the responsiveness of the bid. Further, GAO held that a contracting agency cannot make a subject which is not a matter of responsiveness into a question of responsiveness by the terms of the solicitation. Additionally, although lower prices may be obtained upon resolicitation, it does not establish that the protester's prior bid price was unreasonable. Therefore, unless it is otherwise determined that the protester is unreasonable or found to be nonresponsible, the canceled IFB should be reinstated and award made to the protester. Accordingly, the protest was sustained.