[Protest of USIA Contract Award for Satellite Interconnect System]

B-223326.2,B-223326.3: Oct 2, 1986

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A firm protested a United States Information Agency (USIA) contract award to another firm for a satellite communications system, contending that USIA: (1) eliminated its offer from the competitive range without notifying it; (2) failed to conduct meaningful discussions; (3) improperly found its offer to be technically unacceptable; (4) improperly converted the procurement to a sole-source one through its post-best-and-final-offer discussions with the awardee; (5) failed to conduct a cost-realism analysis; (6) created an impermissible auction situation; (7) engaged in technical transfusion; and (8) was biased in favor of the awardee throughout the procurement process. GAO held that: (1) the USIA contention that it would have prejudiced its position by revealing that it eliminated the protester, leaving only one offerer in the competitive range, was invalid; (2) the failure to notify the protester of its elimination was a procedural matter that did not affect the validity of the award; (3) USIA discussed several major deficiencies with the protester, and the protester acknowledged those concerns in its best and final offer; (4) USIA reasonably determined that the protester's approach was risky; (5) the protester failed to sufficiently detail its proposed solutions to areas of the proposal that USIA found unacceptably risky; (6) the USIA discussions with the awardee did not create a sole-source procurement because, at the time USIA conducted the discussions, the awardee was the only offerer in the competitive range; (7) while the solicitation stated that USIA would evaluate price realism, the evaluation was intended to determine whether bidders overstated their costs, rather than understated them, and the protester's implication was that the awardee could not perform the work at the bid price; (8) it would not consider whether the awardee could perform the work at the bid price because that was a matter of bidder responsibility; (9) even if the awardee had knowledge of the protester's bid price, this was of no consequence because its bid price was more than $40 million lower than the protester's; (10) there was no indication that USIA engaged in technical transfusion or levelling because the awardee's proposal was technically superior throughout the procurement; and (11) the protester provided no evidence to support its allegation that USIA was biased in favor of the awardee. Accordingly, the protest was denied.

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