Protest of Solicitation Specification

B-204024,B-204024.2: Mar 9, 1982

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Two firms protested an alleged defect in and requested cancellation of an invitation for bids issued by the Science and Education Administration. Five bids were submitted; the protesters submitted the third and fourth low bids. The low bidder, certified by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), was awarded the contract, which has been completed. The protesters contended that the specification exceeded the Government's minimum needs and unreasonably restricted competition because other methods of inspection were available, and the length of time and cost involved in obtaining the requisite certification were prohibitive. The agency contended that unsatisfactory performance has resulted from contracts lacking a strict ASME certification provision and that the disputed provision was a definitive criterion of responsibility, reasonably calculated to ensure a requisite standard of quality under the contract. GAO has held that requirements for certification by specific organizations are unduly restrictive; however, cancellation of the solicitation after bid opening was inappropriate in this case since the protesters were not prejudiced. Accordingly, the protests were sustained, and GAO recommended that the requirement be revised for future use.

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