[Protest of Contract Award and Bid Rejection by Army]

B-208929: Jun 21, 1983

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A firm protested the award of a contract and the rejection of its bid to provide forklift trucks under an invitation for bids (IFB) issued by the Army. The protester's low bid was rejected as nonresponsive, because the Army determined that the firm's product did not meet salient characteristics of the brand name model specified in the IFB. The protester maintained that its product met the requirements in question and that the award of the contract to another firm was thus improper. The IFB cautioned that any product offered as an equal to the specified model would have to meet a number of characteristics and that any bidder offering such a product must submit descriptive material to enable the contracting activity to confirm the product's conformance to those characteristics. In this case, the protester treated one requirement as a generic characteristic, without submitting detailed performance data. GAO stated that it is not sufficient that a bidder believes that a product is equal or makes a blanket statement that all salient characteristics are met. Rather, GAO has held that the responsiveness of an "equal" bid depends upon the completeness of the information submitted or reasonably available. While the protester contended that the contracting officer should have requested more information if she did not understand whether its product met the characteristics in question, GAO noted that to allow a bidder to provide additional information after bid opening to make a nonresponsive bid responsive would have been tantamount to permitting the improper submission of a new bid. Accordingly, the protest was denied.

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