[Protest of Air Force Rejection of Technical Proposal]

B-206091: Sep 23, 1982

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A firm protested the Air Force's rejection of its technical proposal for a computer system. The protester's proposal was rejected because it was unable to demonstrate two mandatory requirements in either of two live test demonstrations (LTD). The protester argued that the Air Force's interpretation of the requirements exceeded the plain language of the solicitation and that its system met the requirements. The protester requested that its proposal be found technically acceptable or, in the alternative, that the Air Force amend the solicitation to state explicitly its interpretation of the requirements and permit the firm an opportunity to meet the requirements in a new LTD. GAO stated that both the protester's and the Air Force's interpretations of the requirements were reasonable. Neither requirement in question clearly stated what the Air Force intended or needed. GAO stated that, where there are two or more reasonable interpretations of a solicitation provision, the provision is ambiguous. The ambiguity here was not so obvious as to require an offeror to seek clarification or risk rejection of its offer. In such circumstances it is improper to reject a bid which complies with one of the reasonable interpretations, but not others. Since GAO found that both interpretations were reasonable, it was inappropriate to conclude that the protester's proposal was technically acceptable since it did not meet the Air Force's requirements as expressed in its interpretation of the solicitation; the alternative remedy suggested by the protester was appropriate under these circumstances. GAO recommended that the solicitation be amended to clearly state the Air Force's interpretation. GAO also recommended that the protester be permitted to revise its technical proposal in response to the amendment and that it be permitted to demonstrate its ability to meet the amended requirement in a new LTD. Accordingly, the protest was sustained.

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