[Protest of Determination of Nonresponsibility Under Navy RFP]

B-212077.2: Aug 17, 1984

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A firm protested a Navy determination of its nonresponsibility under a request for proposals issued to determine whether the operation of an air terminal should be contracted out. The Navy found the protester to be nonresponsible because of its inability to obtain an adequate bank commitment during contract negotiations before the cost comparison estimate was prepared. The protester contended that the Navy should have considered a bank commitment it obtained after the cost comparison estimate was completed and the results were announced. The protester had submitted the low technically acceptable bid on the solicitation. However, because the Navy found the protester nonresponsible, it used the higher priced bid for a cost comparison. Since this comparison showed that contracting out was more expensive, the Navy concluded that the work should be retained in-house. The higher priced bidder successfully appealed the cost comparison and is the proposed awardee pending resolution of this decision. GAO found that, whether responsibility was determined before or after the cost comparison, it was clear that the Navy was not in a position to make an award as the result of the appeal. Whatever the cause, the award was delayed and, during that time, additional information bearing on the protester's financial capability became available. GAO agreed with the protester that information bearing on responsibility may be received and considered at any time prior to award. Since no award has been made, GAO believed that it is incumbent upon the Navy to re-examine the question of the protester's responsibility. Accordingly, the protest was sustained.