Protest Alleging Agency Failed To Refer Nonresponsibility Determination to SBA

B-201095: Nov 18, 1980

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A firm protested the failure of an agency to refer an alleged nonresponsibility determination to the Small Business Administration (SBA). Under the law, whenever an agency finds a small business to be nonresponsible, it is required to submit the matter to SBA for a conclusive determination as to the firms's responsibility. However, in this case, it was clear from the protester's submission that the agency did not find it to be nonresponsible. The procurement was negotiated, and the agency found the protester's proposal to be unacceptable because of its limited experience and the lack of detail provided on the system involved. GAO has long recognized that, when negotiated procedures are used, matters such as experience may be considered as part of a technical evaluation if the agency's needs require a relative assessment of competing offerors' abilities to perform. In the instant case, the agency considered the relative merits of the protester's proposal and determined that the proposal would not be included in the competitive range. This did not involve a responsibility determination, and no referral to SBA was required. GAO found the protest to be without merit, and it was summarily dismissed.

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