[Protest of Award of Lease]

B-208699: Dec 13, 1982

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A firm protested the award of a lease for office space, alleging that the Forest Service improperly awarded the lease to a technically unacceptable offerer. The protester also contended that the Forest Service awarded the lease to the awardee because it offered the lowest rent, which was contrary to the selection criteria contained in the solicitation, and that the Forest Service did not give sufficient weight to the technical superiority of its proposal. Finally, the protester objected to the Forest Service's consideration of relocation costs, which were not stated in the solicitation as a factor for the award. GAO could not support a Forest Service allegation that the protest was untimely and, therefore, considered the protest on its merits. GAO found that the awardee's best and final offer did not respond to certain solicitation requirements. However, the contracting officer had accepted the bidder's verbal assurance to provide approved plans that were acceptable to the Government. GAO sustained the protest, because the Forest Service accepted the awardee's technically unacceptable proposal and then sought to remedy this after receipt of best and final offers by continued negotiations only with the awardee. If negotiations are reopened with one bidder, they must be reopened with all of the bidders in the competitive range and a new round of best and final offers must be requested. Accordingly, GAO stated that the Forest Service should investigate the feasibility of terminating the contract and reopening negotiations to allow the bidders a reasonable opportunity to submit new best and final offers. Since the protest was sustained and reopening of negotiations was recommended, GAO did not consider the merits of the protester's other allegations. However, it did note that the Forest Service should make clear its intention to award on the basis of lowest rent offered by a technically acceptable bidder and state that agency relocation costs, if a factor for award, will be considered.

Oct 1, 2020

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