Protest Involving Agency's Decision Not To Renew Contract

B-193843,B-193843.2,B-193843.3: Aug 2, 1979

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Two companies, Palmetto Enterprises, Inc. and Industrial Maintenance Services, Inc. protested a contract award, challenging the rejection of their low bids as nonresponsive. The bids were rejected by the procuring agency because the manning charts of both companies indicated that less than the full number of employees required to be on duty in certain positions by the invitation for bids (IFB) would in fact be on duty. Both companies contended that they intended to comply with the requirements, and that the unfilled slots for various positions were intended to represent break periods for the personnel filling those positions. Industrial further contended that it intended to utilize more manhours than required, that the nature of some positions did not necessitate personnel being on duty for the periods required, and that the impact of its manning shortages was minor and should not have affected its standing as low bidder. It was held that the agency properly rejected the low bids as nonresponsive since the manning charts accompanying the bids indicated that bidders were not complying with the minimum manning requirement of the IFB. It was also held that in the absence of evidence clearly establishing a substantial adverse impact on competition, GAO will not object to the agency's continued use of minimum manning requirements in an effort to ensure adequate service. Industrial objected to the agency's decision not to renew its contract with the company. GAO will not address objections to an agency's decision not to renew a contract which the agency believes was improperly awarded, because the IFB should not have contained option provisions, and any exercise of the option would be improper. Regulation provides that option provisions are not to be included in solicitations where the services being purchased are readily available on the open market. The protests were denied.

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