Protest Alleging Improper Procurement Procedures

B-205060: May 25, 1982

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A firm protested the selection of another firm for award under a request for proposals (RFP) issued by the Agency for International Development (AID) for assistance to the Government of Sudan in meeting the basic health needs of its rural population. The protester contended that AID acted improperly by: (1) disseminating information to selected offerors; (2) failing to adhere to evaluation criteria; and (3) conducting discussions only with certain offerors. The protester also contended that certain AID officials were biased against the firm. GAO review of the Small Business Administration's (SBA) actions under the 8(a) program is limited to determining whether SBA has followed applicable regulations and whether officials have acted fraudulently or in bad faith. AID was acting on behalf of SBA in selecting a firm for award and, therefore, its actions will be reviewed under the criteria applicable to SBA actions. It was not improper for the procuring agency, prior to the issuance of a solicitation, to supply detailed information concerning a section 8(a) procurement to firms selected to compete for the requirement. The protester's refusal to accept the information did not establish an unfair competitive advantage on the part of other firms. To support an allegation of bad faith on the part of a procuring agency, a protester must present virtually irrefutable proof that the agency has a specific and malicious intent to injure the protester. GAO found nothing improper in the AID action. Within the context of a section 8(a) procurement, the failure to hold competitive range discussions with offerors is not legally objectionable since normal competitive procurement practices are not applicable to 8(a) procurements. Accordingly, the protest was denied.

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