Protest of Department of Agriculture Contract Award

B-202114: May 20, 1981

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A firm protested the award of a contract contending that three errors were made in computing the evaluated prices used in determining the low bidder: (1) the Buy American Act differential was not properly computed; (2) the present value of the awardee's prompt-payment discount was not considered; and (3) for evaluation purposes, the agency should not have assumed that each of the 54 optional maintenance agreements would be utilized and that each prompt-payment discount would be earned. Since the evaluated price difference between the protester and the awardee was less than $70, the protester would be entitled to award if correct on any of the three contentions. The procuring agency and the awardee reported that the Buy American Act differential was properly computed and that the other contentions were untimely. GAO concluded that the agency properly applied the Buy American Act differential to the applicable item and properly excluded the application of the Act on maintenance service line items. Thus, this aspect of the protester's protest was without merit. The questioning of the application of the discount provision in the invitation for bids (IFB) was timely. The method of discount evaluation used by the agency was not objectionable because GAO believes that the evaluation was reasonable and consistent with the method contemplated in the IFB and Federal procurement regulations. As the agency reasonably followed the bid evaluation scheme set forth in the IFB, GAO concluded that the protester's suggestion that the evaluation be performed in another manner was too late. Protests against alleged improprieties in an IFB must be filed prior to bid opening. Since this objection was first raised after bid opening, it was untimely. The protest was denied in part and dismissed in part.