Protest Against Disqualification as Subcontractor

B-202419: Apr 7, 1981

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A firm protested the proposed award of a contract to another firm by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA). The protester asserted that, while the proposal in question was submitted by the proposed awardee and listed the protester as a subcontractor, it had jointly prepared the proposal with the proposed awardee. The protester contended that UMTA had arbitrarily determined that it was an unacceptable contractor, and it further objected to UMTA providing the proposed awardee with a list of substitute contractors. UMTA stated that a solicitation was issued as part of an informal selection process which it was using to aid in the determination of which firm it would recommend to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for the award of a contract as a set-aside procurement under the 8(a) program. Prior to selecting a firm for certification by SBA, UMTA conducted a limited technical evaluation of the proposals submitted, and it evaluated the proposed awardee's proposal highest overall. However, it was apparently determined that the components submitted by the subcontractor, the protester, were technically deficient. As a result, it invited the proposed awardee to resubmit its proposal using the services of a different subcontractor. Because of the broad discretion afforded SBA and the contracting agencies under the applicable statutes and regulations, GAO review of action under the 8(a) program is generally limited to determining whether the regulations have been followed and whether there has been fraud or bad faith on the part of Government officials. While the protester disagreed with the technical evaluation of the proposed awardee's proposal by UMTA, fraud or bad faith was not alleged and the applicable regulations were followed by UMTA. Accordingly, this matter was not for review by GAO. Concerning the issue of the subcontractor list, questions of with whom and to what extent an 8(a) applicant subcontracts its award were within the discretion of SBA and were not subject to review by GAO. Therefore, the protest was dismissed.

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