Protest Allegations Involve Product Acceptability and Determination of Government's Minimum Needs

B-194763,B-195072: Aug 16, 1979

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Tyco protested the procurement item description (PID) in a Defense Logistics Agency request for proposals. The PID identified a vibrator part manufactured by Midland Ross. Also, there was a clause in the request for proposals requiring firms offering to supply another manufacturer's part to show that the substitute part was either identical to or interchangeable with the part identified in the PID. Tyco contended that it had in the past supplied an acceptable vibrator which should have been identified in the PID as acceptable without further substantiation. In addition, Tyco stated that the vibrator manufactured by Midland Ross is a solid state device while the Government's identification number used in the PID refers to a reed-type vibrator. GAO agreed with Tyco to the extent that a solid state vibrator should not be procured by reference to a control number that identifies only reed-type vibrators. Nevertheless, it was held that Tyco was not predjudiced by such inconsistency, since the record indicated that the involved agency considers the Midland Ross part to be interchangeable with a reed-type vibrator and the solicitation provided for acceptance of parts shown to be interchangeable. Tyco's protest also questioned the Government's minimum needs as required in the request for proposals. GAO responded by stating that the determination of the Government's minimum needs is a responsibility of the contracting agency and these decisions will not be questioned unless clearly shown to be unreasonable. In addition, Tyco contended that personnel at the procuring activity improperly used and disclosed Tyco's trade secrets and proprietary drawings in violation of certain criminal statutes and standards of conduct. This contention was not considered since allegations of imprpoper conduct by procuring officials should be referred to the Justice Department.

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