Protest of Sole-Source Contract Award

B-202488: Aug 7, 1981

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A firm protested the award of a sole-source contract for the maintenance of an automated system. The protester argued that the agency lacked sufficient justification for a sole-source acquisition and that the agency failed to have a synopsis of the intended acquisition published in the Commerce Business Daily (CBD), thus depriving it of the opportunity to demonstrate its ability to fulfill the agency's needs. The agency had deduced from previous attempts at formal advertisement that most firms lacked the ability to perform the necessary services. Thus, the agency decided to negotiate a sole-source contract. The agency apparently believed that a synopsis published in the CBD would serve no useful purpose. GAO has held that a sole-source award may be justified where repeated attempts to obtain acceptable bids have failed and a review of market conditions revealed no likely competition. Unless it can be shown that the contracting agency acted without a reasonable basis, GAO will not question the decision to acquire services or supplies on a sole-source basis. The protester made no such showing. GAO will not disturb an otherwise valid sole-source award where the failure to synopsize one acquisition in the CBD was not the result of a deliberate attempt to preclude a potential source from competing. While the agency should have synopsized the procurement, the failure to do so here was understandable and did not warrant disturbing the contract. The protest was denied.