[Protest of Navy Rejection of Proposal]

B-214246: Sep 25, 1984

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A firm protested the Navy's rejection of its proposal under a request for proposals (RFP) for aircraft logistics management and weapons systems management. The proposal was eliminated from the competition after the evaluation of best and final technical offers because the contracting officer found that the protester had no reasonable chance for award due to its proposal's low technical score and unreasonably low price. The protester contended that its low price was not a proper basis for consideration because its proposal was technically acceptable and contract award was made on a firm fixed-price basis. The protester also questioned the evaluation of its technical proposal and contended that the agency used evaluation criteria which were not in the RFP. The RFP provided that the technical evaluation factors would be considered twice as important as price, and pricing would be evaluated on the basis of realism and demonstrated understanding of the work. GAO agreed that the fact that an offerer's price is unreasonably low does not provide a valid basis for rejecting a technically acceptable fixed-price proposal absent a finding of nonresponsibility. However, the protester was eliminated from the competition not on the basis of its low price, but on the basis of its low price and low technical score. A proposal which is rated technically acceptable may be eliminated from the competitive range if there is no reasonable chance for award. GAO found nothing improper in the contracting officer's decision to reject the proposal before final price scoring since its inclusion could have distorted the evaluation results. Any objections which the protester had concerning the propriety of the agency's decision to evaluate price proposals in terms of price realism should have been raised prior to the closing date set for receipt of proposals and, therefore, were untimely. Further, GAO found no merit to the protester's contention that the Navy failed to hold meaningful discussions on its proposal's deficiencies. In addition, GAO found the Navy's concerns about certain technical factors in the protester's proposal to be reasonably related to the evaluation criteria stated in the RFP and found no basis to conclude that the technical evaluators were arbitrary in their assessment of the protester's proposal. Accordingly, the protest was denied.

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