[Protest of Amendment of RFP]

B-207466: Nov 15, 1982

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A firm protested the action of the Department of Commerce in amending a request for proposals (RFP) for the preparation of patent data on computer magnetic tape for a database and related requirements of the Patent and Trademark Office. The RFP stated that offerors may be required to complete a pilot patent production demonstration (PPPD) and a benchmark test and to demonstrate the technical capability needed to produce the required tapes. The amendment to which the protester objected increased the time allowed for the production of the tapes under the PPPD, and the protester, the incumbent, asserted that this was inconsistent with portions of the RFP that emphasized the importance of timeliness of performance and made a meaningful PPPD impossible. GAO held that: (1) the agency properly determined to relax testing requirements where the incumbent was the only awardee during the 12-year procurement history of the requirement and prior procurements have resulted in minimal competition and frequent protests which resulted in GAO decisions requiring the agency to attempt to increase the feasibility of effective competition; and (2) the agency's determination to increase the number of days in the test period for the production of demonstration computer tapes was reasonable in view of the agency goal of fostering competition and determination that any test was necessarily of limited scope and that a relaxed timeframe provided only a speculative risk of the possibility of inaccurate or unrepresentative test results, which was outweighed by the possible benefits of increased competition. Accordingly, the protest was denied.

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