[Protest of USDA Contract Award for Financial Management Computer System]

B-218266: May 31, 1985

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A firm protested a Department of Agriculture (USDA) contract award, contending that USDA erroneously evaluated the awardee's cost proposal. Although USDA recognized its error, it asserted that, because the awardee's maintenance plan exceeded the agency's minimum needs, the effect of the erroneous evaluation was mitigated. GAO found that, since neither of the firms best and final offers fully met the agency's maintenance needs, the agency should have reopened negotiations and requested a new round of best and final offers. The USDA failure to do so indicated that the original evaluation process was fundamentally flawed; therefore, it could not be determined which offer was more advantageous from a technical/cost standpoint. Accordingly, the protest was sustained; however, since a substantial portion of the contract had already been performed, corrective action would not be appropriate, and GAO recommended that the protester be allowed to recover its costs of filing and pursuing the protest and also be allowed recovery of its proposal preparation costs.

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