Protest of Justice Contract Award

B-205212: Nov 24, 1981

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A firm protested the award of a contract raising three bases of protest: (1) the procurement was not properly advertised; (2) the contract award was improperly delayed; and (3) the awardee did not have the license required by county law to perform the contract. The protester contended that not all of the potential bidders in the county received bid forms and that the solicitation was never advertised in the local newspapers. Although all parties wishing to compete must have the opportunity to do so, the solicitation for a given procurement need not be furnished to every potential bidder. Regulations require only that bids be solicited from all qualified sources deemed necessary by the contracting officer to assure full and free competition. In this case, there was no indication that the competition was not adequate, and there was no requirement that the procurement be advertised in the local newspapers. Since the protester submitted a bid, it could not show that it was prejudiced by the means chosen for publicizing the solicitation. GAO recognizes a number of situations where an agency may defer awarding a contract to allow a bidder to qualify for the award. GAO will not object to a reasonable delay which does not require the agency to compromise its needs. Here, the actual delay in performance was only 3 working days, and the agency apparently had no trouble meeting its needs. Under these circumstances, the delay was not objectionable. The protester's final contention that the award was improper because the awardee did not possess a proper license was also without merit. Absent an express requirement that an offeror hold a particular license or permit, the contracting officer need not consider whether licensing has been obtained in determining the offeror's eligibility for award. As there was no indication that the license was required in the solicitation, GAO could not conclude that the agency acted improperly in awarding the contract before the awardee received a license. Accordingly, the protest was denied.

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