[Protest of Department of Interior Contract Award]

B-209541.2: May 23, 1983

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A firm protested a Department of the Interior contract award for a research and development effort to evaluate and gather data on geologic and soil conditions. The protester subsequently brought suit in a district court which issued a stop-work order and requested that GAO issue an opinion on the matter. The protester contended that: (1) the chairman of the evaluation committee was biased, resulting in the protester's receiving a lower score; (2) Interior's upgrading of the awardee's technical proposal was not consistent with standard evaluation procedures; (3) Interior's determination that the protester's and awardee's technical proposals were equivalent ignored the protester's significantly higher technical scores; (4) Interior improperly placed too much emphasis in its evaluation of the protester's bid; (5) Interior had admitted the superiority of the protester's bid in an earlier decision; (6) Interior incorrectly based award on the initial technical proposals rather than on the revised versions; and (7) Interior's failure to provide the protester with reasons for terminating the contract violated due process requirements. GAO held that: (1) the chairman's scoring only caused a slight lowering of the protester's bid; (2) there was no indication that Interior was inconsistent in its evaluation of the awardee's bid; (3) since procurement officials have broad discretion in using evaluation results, there was no basis to object to the agency's equivalency determination; (4) Interior made no improper deviation from its evaluation criteria; (5) a procuring agency is permitted to select an awardee regardless of its earlier contradictory position; (6) revised technical proposals are required to be considered only if bias is involved in the initial evaluation, which was not alleged here; and (7) there is no requirement for a contracting agency to provide notice to a contractor of the agency's intent to terminate a contract. Accordingly, the protest was without merit.

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