[Protest of Army Contract Award Alleging Competition Restriction and Conflict of Interest]
B-213355: Jun 11, 1984
- Full Report:
A firm protested a contract award under an Army solicitation for an engineering design system, alleging that certain specifications restricted competition and that a conflict of interest tainted the award. GAO found the contention alleging restrictive specifications untimely because the protester filed its protest with GAO more than 10 working days after it learned that the Army refused to relax the specifications in the manner that the protester had requested. Bid protest procedures require that if the protest is filed initially with the agency, any subsequent protest to GAO must be filed within 10 working days of the agency's initial adverse action. However, the protester argued that its complaint to the Army was not a protest. If that were the case, the protest was still untimely filed since procedures require protests of alleged solicitation improprieties to be filed with the contracting agency or GAO prior to the closing date for receipt of initial proposals. GAO stated that the responsibility for determining whether a firm has a conflict of interest and to what extent the firm should be excluded from competition rests with the procuring agency. The Army stated that the employee in question, who had only helped in a general way with the procurement, was employed by another firm, not the awardee. In addition, the employee was not involved with the evaluation of proposals and did not have access to proposals. GAO held that the fact that the employee had once been employed by the awardee was not sufficient to bar the awardee from competing. Accordingly, the protest was dismissed in part and denied in part.