[Protest of Army Rejection of Technical Proposal]

B-218442: Jun 26, 1985

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A firm protested the Army's rejection of its technical proposal as unacceptable in a formal, two-step procurement, contending that the specification requirements would lead to unnecessary costs and were unreasonable and unworkable. The protester further contended that the Army should have requested clarification of the proposal instead of rejecting it since it found only one contractor technically acceptable and was, therefore, eliminating the primary purpose of the bid process. GAO held that: (1) a protest based on alleged improprieties in a solicitation must be filed prior to the closing date for receipt of proposals in order to be considered on its merits; (2) the intent of the first step of a two-step procurement is to qualify as many proposals as possible through discussions and the agency should make any reasonable effort to bring the proposals to an acceptable status; and (3) since questions of acceptability are matters of judgment on the part of contracting officials, GAO will not question such judgments unless it is clearly shown that the action was unreasonable, arbitrary, or a violation of procurement law. Extensive revisions would have to be made to the protester's proposal to make it acceptable, and the protester's allegation of bad faith or bias on the part of contracting officials was unsupported by the record. Since there was inadequate competition, GAO recommended that the Army cancel the second step and consider negotiating with the only acceptable offerer under a one-step procurement to preclude the possibility of an award at an unreasonable price. Accordingly, the protest was denied in part and dismissed in part.