Protest of IFB Cancellation

B-199293: Apr 8, 1981

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A college protested the cancellation of an invitation for bids (IFB) for instruction services for the Marine Corps Basic Skills Education Program and the agency's award of a contract for the same services to another college. The original solicitation included a clause requiring the contractor to be a regionally accredited educational institution approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. This clause was inconsistent with the procuring agency's obligation to maximize competition, and the IFB was canceled. The protester had submitted the apparent low bid for that IFB. Despite the complaint by the protester, the Marine Corps issued a new IFB and awarded the contract to a different college. GAO held that the inclusion of a restrictive accreditation requirement was not a proper basis for cancellation of the solicitation since the record did not show that the requirement inhibited the competition. The award properly could have been made on the basis of accreditation equivalent to that which was specified. However, GAO noted that estimates for certain line items were not included in the IFB as required for requirements-type contracts. For this reason, the IFB was properly canceled. Accordingly, the protest was denied.