Protest of Army Contract Award

B-198971: Nov 5, 1980

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A college protested the proposed award of a contract issued by the Department of the Army for a basic skills education program. The protester contended that the solicitation improperly failed to clearly advise prospective bidders of the applicability of two Army regulations which implement the basic skills program. Additionally, the protester contended that, in conducting the procurement, the Army did not comply with the regulations in two respects: (1) it failed to restrict the contract award to accredited educational institutions; and (2) the invitation for bids (IFB) required the contractor to provide counseling services as part of the basic skills education program. Finally, the protester asserted that the IFB improperly allowed the submission of qualifications statements after bid opening. GAO held that: (1) the Army advised bidders that the requirement that the program would be contracted with accredited educational institutions was waived for this procurement; (2) counseling was not necessarily precluded by the regulations, since the Army asserted that counseling services are incidental to the basic skills education program instruction and inherent in providing appropriate instruction; (3) none of the bidders could have been prejudiced in the competition by the Army's failure to specifically advise bidders of the existence or applicability of the regulations, since all bidders were bidding to the same requirements; and (4) a statement of a bidder's qualifications involves a firm's responsibility, and thus is a matter for submission after bid opening. Accordingly, the protest was denied.