[Protest of CHAMPUS Contract Award]

B-210227: May 23, 1983

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An organization protested a contract award by the Office of Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS) for fiscal services. The protester's numerous contentions centered on the issue that technical aspects were considered over price. GAO held that two of the allegations were untimely. In response to the first, GAO stated that bid protest procedures require that protests of alleged improprieties in a solicitation which are apparent prior to the closing date for submission of initial proposals be filed prior to that date. Regarding the second, which challenged the evaluation criteria and the failure of CHAMPUS to take into account its low price and alleged superiority, GAO stated that bid protest procedures require that protests against other than alleged deficiencies that are apparent on the face of the solicitation be filed within 10 working days after the basis of the protest is known. The record indicated that the higher technical rating accorded the awardee reflected the CHAMPUS reasonable assessment that the awardee's system offered a superior capacity to satisfy its requirements. In summary, GAO stated that, where a solicitation provides that technical factors are of paramount importance in the selection, an agency has broad discretion to select the best technical proposal over a lower ranked but lower cost one. The protester further contended that the awardee's price was below cost and that it could not perform at the offered price. GAO noted that CHAMPUS determined that the awardee's price was supportable. GAO does not review protests concerning affirmative determinations of responsibility absent a showing that the contracting officer acted fraudulently or in bad faith or that definitive responsibility criteria have not been met. Accordingly, the protest was denied in part and dismissed in part.

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