Protest Against Allegedly Restrictive Specification

B-204364.2: Jan 8, 1982

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A firm protested the specifications and procedures used by the Navy in awarding a purchase order for square-tube cabinet files. The protester contended that the requirement for square-tube files, which were manufactured by only one firm, constituted a sole-source specification which unduly restricted competition. It also argued that, contrary to the Navy's assertions, its round-tube files met or exceeded the storage space provided by square-tube files and would result in a cost savings to the government. The Navy determined that only square-tube files were acceptable, based on a severe shortage of storage space and the need for maximum storage capacity within the space available. Award was, therefore, made to the low bidder, and performance of the contract has been completed. The protester did not refute a Navy assertion that the round-tube files did not provide easy identification and retrieval of the contents. In the opinion of GAO, the Navy adequately supported its opinion that the square-tube file requirement was reasonable. In technical disputes, a protester's disagreement with an agency opinion does not invalidate that opinion. Therefore, this ground of the protest was denied. The protester's objections to the Navy's procurement procedures were dismissed because the protester was not an interested party to maintain a protest concerning matters which directly affected only the unsuccessful offerers. Accordingly, the protest was denied in part and dismissed in part.