[Protest of Navy Contract Award]

B-209131: Mar 22, 1983

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A firm protested a Navy contract award under an invitation for bids (IFB) for radioactive contamination protection rubber gloves. The protester's low bid was rejected as nonresponsive to IFB specifications pertaining to wrist size. The protester argued that the size variance was a minor and immaterial informality which should have been waived. GAO has held that an agency's technical conclusions will not be overturned unless shown to be unreasonable; in this instance, GAO found that the Navy required specific wrist measurements to ensure suitable protection in radiological work which was a reasonable specification. Therefore, GAO held that the deficiency in the protester's bid was material and not subject to waiver. Further, the fact that the Navy waived the requirement in prior procurements did not affect the rejection under the current procurement, since responsiveness must be determined from a bid itself. The protester also contended that, by not waiving the deviation, the Navy paid a higher price for the item. GAO has held that the possibility of realizing monetary savings by allowing the correction or waiver of a material deficiency is outweighed by the importance of maintaining the integrity of the competitive bidding system. Finally, to the extent that the protester contended that the specifications were restrictive, overstated the Navy's needs, and were inconsistent with other glove procurements, these allegations concerned alleged improprieties which were apparent from the face of the solicitation and which should have been raised prior to bid opening; since these issues were not raised within this timeframe, the protests were untimely. Accordingly, the protest was dismissed in part and denied in part.