[Protest of Specifications in Two Defense RFP's]

B-210029,B-210447: Sep 2, 1983

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A firm protested the specifications of two requests for proposals (RFP) issued by the Defense Personnel Support Center for hypodermic injector devices for mass inoculations. One proposal specified a foot-operated hydraulic pump as the power source for the injector and the other specified an electrically powered injector. The protester contended that, by specifying the power sources rather than using performance specifications, the RFP's were unduly restrictive and eliminated from competition its more versatile and less expensive compressed carbon dioxide injector. The primary justification for the procurement of the foot-operated unit was the agency's need for self-contained devices. Other justifications included the possible need for additional training and spare parts if the protester's unit was acquired. The agency also asserted that the compressed gas needed to operate the protester's unit would require a secondary supply system which might not be available in combat situations. Despite the protester's argument that the availability of compressed gas would not be a problem, GAO held that the agency's need for self-contained equipment in combat situations was not unreasonable. Accordingly, this protest was denied. However, GAO found that the specification limiting purchase of hypodermic injectors to those electrically powered was unduly restrictive of competition since injectors appeared to be stocked primarily for use in fixed facilities where other power sources, including compressed gas, could be used. GAO also concluded that the agency's arguments concerning spare parts stocking and additional training did not justify the restriction. Accordingly, the protest pertaining to competition restriction was sustained.