[Protest of Air Force Contract Award for Cost Analysis Study]

B-220431: Mar 13, 1986

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A firm protested an Air Force contract award, contending that: (1) its proposed hourly cost was 50-percent lower than the awardee's rate; (2) the Air Force did not show that the awardee's proposal was technically superior to its proposal; and (3) the Air Force did not conduct meaningful discussions with it concerning the weaknesses in its proposal. GAO has held that: (1) a contracting agency may determine that it is more advantageous to award a contract to an offerer with a higher priced, technically superior proposal, if technical advantages offset the lower priced, technically acceptable proposal; (2) an offerer is not automatically entitled to an award merely because it offered the lowest price; and (3) an agency is not obligated to make an award to a low offerer unless the solicitation specifies that cost will be the determinative factor. GAO found that: (1) offerers were on notice that cost would be the least important consideration in determining the awardee; (2) the Air Force reasonably determined that the awardee's proposal was superior to all other proposals and constituted the best value to the government; and (3) the protester did not file a separate protest concerning the Air Force's failure to conduct discussions with it until 6 weeks after it was notified of the award and, therefore, that aspect of its protest was untimely filed. Accordingly, the protest was denied in part and dismissed in part.

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