Protest Alleging Unfair Competition

B-203279: Apr 27, 1982

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A small business firm protested the timing of two Navy contract awards for a Mobile Protected Weapons System (MPWS) on the grounds that the awardees on these two procurements would have an unfair advantage in the competition for a third, related procurement. The protester requested that the two awards be postponed until after competitive testing and evaluation had been completed for the related program known as the Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) Program. The protester also objected to the inclusion of three foreign firms among those selected for award of MPWS contracts. It also complained that no small businesses were included among those receiving contracts. Bid protest procedures require that protests involving other than solicitation deficiencies be filed within 10 days of when the grounds for the protest are known. In this case, the protester did not file the protest until 4 weeks after the basis was, or should have been, known. Therefore, GAO found the protest on this issue to be untimely, but it pointed out that there is nothing unusual or improper in an offeror's enjoying a competitive advantage arising by virtue of its current or previous contracts. It is only when the advantage results from unfair or improper Government action that the situation is legally objectionable. In regard to the other issues, GAO stated that the solicitation contained no restrictions regarding the submission of proposals by foreign firms, and it would have been improper to deny award to a competitor merely because it was not a domestic firm. Similarly, because the procurement was not set aside for small business, the agency had no legal basis for giving preferential treatment to small business concerns. The protester also raised two issues concerning vehicle testing and requested data. However, GAO concluded that both issues were untimely raised. Accordingly, the protest was denied in part and dismissed in part.