[Protest of HUD Contract Awards for Management Broker Services]

B-221459: Apr 23, 1986

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A firm protested Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) contract awards for management broker services, contending that: (1) HUD, in order to ensure that a minority firm received the contract, failed to apply the solicitation's responsibility standards; (2) as a result of its protest against the first contract award, the contracting officer attempted to preclude it from bidding on two other contracts; and (3) HUD improperly relaxed its usual special responsibility standards when it drew up the solicitation for another contract. The protester also claimed bid and protest preparation costs. The contracting officer contended that: (1) the protest was untimely filed; and (2) in making an affirmative determination of the awardee's responsibility, he determined that the owner's and staff's backgrounds and experience, in their totality, met the responsibility standards. GAO has held that, a protest involving a questionable application of an agency's definitive responsibility criteria will be considered on the merits even if it is untimely filed. GAO found that: (1) the awardee did not meet the solicitation's definitive responsibility criteria; (2) the first solicitation's definitive responsibility criteria overstated the agency's needs and unduly restricted competition; and (3) the contentions that the agency improperly relaxed its responsibility standards and precluded the protester from competition were academic since the protester received an award. Accordingly, the protest was sustained in part and denied in part, and the claim was allowed. GAO would not recommend resolicitation of the first contract since there was no indication that the protester and awardee would have bid differently.