[Protest of VA Contract Award]

B-209412: Apr 12, 1983

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A firm protested a Veterans Administration (VA) contract award for a telephone system at a VA hospital as the second step of a formally advertised, two-step procurement. The protester contended that VA improperly determined its second-low bid to be nonresponsive and improperly accepted the awardee's bid which it alleged was nonresponsive because it barred public disclosure of its bid prices. The awardee claimed that its price information was proprietary and that disclosure could be restricted. The record showed that the contracting officer had advised bidders at a prebid meeting that a proprietary bid restricting public disclosure would be acceptable to maintain the secrecy of sensitive information. However, GAO has held that a bid which restricts the disclosure of price information renders the bid nonresponsive, despite contrary advice given by contracting personnel. Accordingly, the protest was sustained. However, GAO noted that, considering the status of the contract's performance, contract termination would not be in the best interests of the Government.