Protest of Contract Award for Moving Services

B-203304,B-203304.2: Jan 4, 1982

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Two firms protested the award of a contract for office moving services under a Department of State solicitation. The first protester, the incumbent contractor, contended that the current solicitation should not have been issued because its contract contained an option clause which required the agency to renew the contract for 4 additional years subject to the availability of funds. The second protester filed an initial and supplemental protest. The contentions were: (1) the contracting officer failed to require the awardee to have the necessary permits, franchises, or licenses prior to award; (2) the awardee's bid did not comport with wage standards required under requisite legislation; and (3) the affirmative determination of the awardee's responsibility was improper. GAO held that the contention of the first protest was a matter for contract administration and not for GAO review under its bid protest function. When a protester alleges breach of contract, the matter must be pursued under the disputes clause of the contract. The second protester's contentions were timely since the protest was received within 10 working days after the basis of protest was known or should have been known. GAO held that: (1) where a solicitation required bidders to obtain and maintain any necessary permits and licenses, the burden of compliance was placed upon the bidders, but the lack of such documents was not necessarily a condition for award; (2) the acceptance of an unreasonably low or even a below-cost bid was not illegal and the possibility of a buy-in did not provide a basis on which an award could be challenged, if the contracting officer has made an affirmative determination of responsibility; and (3) GAO does not review protests of affirmative determinations of responsibility unless fraud on the part of the contacting official was alleged. Accordingly, the first protest was dismissed. The second protest was dismissed in part and denied in part.

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