[Protest of Army's Issuance of RFP and Sole-Source Contract Award]

B-208504: Apr 14, 1983

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A firm protested an Army solicitation and sole-source award for four types of stretchers to another firm, alleging that the specifications were unduly restrictive of competition. After reviewing the Army's needs and surveying manufacturers and, after receiving a request from the user facility that all four types of stretchers be supplied by the same manufacturer, the contracting officer prepared a sole-source justification for the procurement. He issued the solicitation 3 months later. The protester maintained that the Army had concealed its decision to procure the items on a sole-source basis for 3 months and that the Army had said nothing to contradict the allegation that the specifications were purposefully drafted around the product of a single company, which was selected on the basis of the preference of some Army medical personnel rather than upon performance criteria for each type of item required. Finally, the firm noted that the Army's sole-source justification related to just one of the four types of stretchers required by the solicitation. GAO held that, although the protester failed to prove affirmatively that the agency had no reasonable basis for its determination of its own minimum needs, there was no reasonable basis for a sole-source procurement of three of the four types of stretchers. GAO held that, where the training involved was no more than a simple, routine demonstration of the equipment, the stated necessity of compatibility and interchangeability of parts was no basis for restricting competition. The protest against this aspect of the procurement was sustained. Accordingly, the protest was denied in part and sustained in part.

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