[Protest of FHwA Contract Award for Laboratory Support Services]

B-275818: Mar 31, 1997

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A firm protested a Federal Highway Administration (FHwA) contract award for laboratory support services, contending that FHwA: (1) staffing of the evaluation panel was illogical and arbitrary; (2) unreasonably evaluated the awardee's proposal regarding its past performance, personnel, and price realism; and (3) should have followed the recommendations of the technical evaluation panel in awarding the contract. GAO held that: (1) the composition of the evaluation panel was within FHwA's discretion, since there was no evidence of bias on the part of particular evaluators; (2) there was no evidence that the awardee engaged in "bait-and-switch" of proposed key personnel; (3) FHwA's evaluation of the awardee's firm, fixed-price proposal was reasonable, and based on a price analysis that included a comparison of direct and indirect rates with other bidders and other agency contracts for similar services; and (4) the source selection official's (SSO) decision to raise the awardee's technical standing was unobjectionable, since the SSO was not bound by the recommendations and conclusions of working level evaluators. Accordingly, the protest was denied.