[Protest of Coast Guard Contract Award for Solid-State Flashers]

B-220017.2: Feb 14, 1986

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A firm protested a Coast Guard contract award for solid-state flashers, contending that: (1) the awardee's flashers did not comply with the requirements for a qualified product; (2) the solicitation specifications were ambiguous; and (3) the Coast Guard should have rejected the awardee's bid as nonresponsive or waived the specifications that the awardee had not met. GAO noted that: (1) the procurement was limited to qualified products list (QPL) sources; (2) the protester and awardee were the only manufacturers with flashers on the QPL at the time of bid opening; and (3) the specifications had to be modified to incorporate protection of the flasher, but the Coast Guard initiated the procurement before modifying its specifications and establishing a new QPL. GAO found that: (1) the specifications did not require that flashers have certain suppression features; (2) the awardee's product was on the QPL at the time bids were opened; (3) the awardee's bid offered, without exception, to furnish products in compliance with the applicable specifications; (4) it is the qualifying agency's decision whether or not to remove a product from the QPL before bid opening; (5) the Coast Guard considered the failures of the awardee's product and determined that it complied with the specifications and should be placed on the QPL; and (6) the protester supplemented its original timely protest with a new ground of protest more than 10 working days after the basis for the new argument should have been known. Accordingly, the protest was denied in part and dismissed in part.