Protest of Proposal Evaluation

B-198319: Dec 17, 1980

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A firm protested its exclusion from the competitive range by the Department of Energy (DOE) under a solicitation for quick reaction work order master contracts for planning, analytical, technical, and other required services. The firm argued that all technically qualified offerors, which it was conceded to be, should have been selected rather than only those determined by DOE to have been best qualified. The protester contended that the actions by DOE arbitrarily limited competition through (1) determination of the competitive range, (2) evaluation criteria, and (3) source selection procedures. The protest was timely since protests based primarily on the manner in which proposals were evaluated and the competitive range determined need not be filed before closing date for initial proposals. GAO held that, in quick reaction work order procurement, the competitive range may be a relative one. The establishment of a competitive range for small businesses only was proper when (1) a 25 percent set-aside was announced in the solicitation and (2) the small business proposals had a real chance for award when compared with each other and preference was taken into account. Although disclosure of additional considerations by DOE would have given all offerors a better understanding of the selection process, notice of these factors and an opportunity to amend would not have helped any firm to improve its proposal. The evaluation was in accord with stated criteria, all offerors were treated alike, and the evaluation reflected the reasoned judgment of the evaluators. Accordingly, the protest was denied.