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BID PROTEST - DISCUSSIONS - TECHNICALLY UNACCEPTABLE BID DECISION DENYING THE PROTEST OF TELETRON DATA CORPORATION AGAINST THE DETERMINATION THAT ITS PROPOSAL WAS TECHNICALLY UNACCEPTABLE UNDER A RFQ ISSUED BY THE ROME AIR DEVELOPMENT CENTER. PARTICULARLY WHERE TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS ARE INVOLVED. WITH REGARD TO THE NECESSITY OF CONDUCTING DISCUSSIONS WITH AN OFFEROR AS REQUIRED BY ASPR 3-805.1(A) IS PRIMARILY A MATTER OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION WHICH WILL NOT BE DISTURBED BY GAO IN THE ABSENCE OF A CLEAR SHOWING OF ABUSE OF SUCH DISCRETION. WAS TECHNICALLY UNACCEPTABLE. THE SUBJECT RFQ WAS ISSUED BY RADC ON MARCH 25. EVALUATION FACTORS WERE SET FORTH IN SECTION D OF THE SOLICITATION.

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B-176257, DEC 19, 1972

BID PROTEST - DISCUSSIONS - TECHNICALLY UNACCEPTABLE BID DECISION DENYING THE PROTEST OF TELETRON DATA CORPORATION AGAINST THE DETERMINATION THAT ITS PROPOSAL WAS TECHNICALLY UNACCEPTABLE UNDER A RFQ ISSUED BY THE ROME AIR DEVELOPMENT CENTER. THE DETERMINATION OF COMPETITIVE RANGE, PARTICULARLY WHERE TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS ARE INVOLVED, WITH REGARD TO THE NECESSITY OF CONDUCTING DISCUSSIONS WITH AN OFFEROR AS REQUIRED BY ASPR 3-805.1(A) IS PRIMARILY A MATTER OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION WHICH WILL NOT BE DISTURBED BY GAO IN THE ABSENCE OF A CLEAR SHOWING OF ABUSE OF SUCH DISCRETION. SEE 48 COMP. GEN. 314 (1968).

TO MATZKIN & DAY:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 14, 1972, AND PRIOR CORRESPONDENCE, ON BEHALF OF TELETRON DATA CORPORATION (TDC), PROTESTING AGAINST THE DETERMINATION OF THE ROME AIR DEVELOPMENT CENTER (RADC), THAT TDC'S PROPOSAL, SUBMITTED IN RESPONSE TO REQUEST FOR QUOTATIONS (RFQ) NO. F30602 -72-Q-0344, WAS TECHNICALLY UNACCEPTABLE. YOU CONTEND THAT NO AWARD SHOULD BE MADE UNDER THE RFQ TO ANOTHER FIRM IN THE ABSENCE OF NEGOTIATIONS WITH TDC.

THE SUBJECT RFQ WAS ISSUED BY RADC ON MARCH 25, 1972, FOR THE DEVELOPMENT, TESTING, AND EVALUATION OF AN EXPERIMENTAL MODEL OF A HIGH GAIN, HF ANTENNA SYSTEM, AND ITS INTEGRATION WITH A TRANSPORTABLE FACILITY. THE RFQ CALLED FOR THE FABRICATION OF A SCALE MODEL OF THE ANTENNA, AND THE FABRICATION OF A FULL SCALE HF ANTENNA SYSTEM BASED UPON THE SCALE MODEL. EVALUATION FACTORS WERE SET FORTH IN SECTION D OF THE SOLICITATION.

ALTHOUGH FIVE QUOTATIONS WERE RECEIVED BY THE CLOSING DATE OF MAY 12, 1972, ONLY THE PROPOSALS OF TECHNOLOGY FOR COMMUNICATIONS INTERNATIONAL AND CONTINENTAL ELECTRONICS MANUFACTURING COMPANY WERE DETERMINED TO BE TECHNICALLY ACCEPTABLE. THE OTHER THREE PROPOSALS, INCLUDING TDC'S, WERE DETERMINED TO CONTAIN MAJOR DEFICIENCIES AND, CONSEQUENTLY, WERE NOT CONSIDERED WITHIN THE COMPETITIVE RANGE.

YOU CONTEND THAT TDC'S PROPOSAL WAS THE LOWEST PRICED AND IN FULL COMPLIANCE WITH THE SPECIFICATIONS. YOU ALSO ASSERT THAT TDC'S PROPOSAL REPRESENTS "A LOW-COST, HIGH-RELIABILITY ANTENNA APPROACH BASED UPON DIRECT APPLICATION OF PREVIOUSLY PROVEN ARRAY ANTENNA DESIGNS INTO THE HF FREQUENCY REGION COUPLED WITH THE USE OF PROVEN HF TRANSMISSION LINE TECHNIQUES." IN ADDITION, YOU CLAIM THAT RADC WAS PRE-DISPOSED TO A PARTICULAR TECHNICAL APPROACH, AND THAT THE AIR FORCE SHOULD HAVE DISCLOSED ITS PREFERENCE.

THE AIR FORCE EVALUATION TEAM FOUND TDC'S PROPOSAL TO BE TECHNICALLY UNACCEPTABLE. THE TDC PROPOSAL WAS DETERMINED TO INVOLVE HIGH TECHNICAL RISKS WITH HIGH MAINTENANCE COSTS AND A HIGH PROBABILITY OF COST OVERRUN DURING THE INITIAL DEVELOPMENT EFFORT. THE HIGH TECHNICAL RISK WAS FELT TO BE INHERENT IN THE COMPLEX AND COMPLICATED FEED SYSTEM PROPOSED.

THE TECHNICAL EVALUATION REPORT ENUMERATED VARIOUS ASPECTS OF THE TDC PROPOSAL WHICH LED THE AIR FORCE TO THE ABOVE CONCLUSIONS. YOU HAVE SUBMITTED A DETAILED DISCUSSION OF EACH AREA OF THE TDC PROPOSAL WHICH THE AIR FORCE REGARDED AS WEAK. IN REBUTTING THE AIR FORCE'S STATEMENT THAT TDC'S SERIES FEED SELECTION IS VERY COMPLICATED AND OBVIATES ALL OF THE ADVANTAGES OF THE SERIES FEED, YOU STATE THAT THE TDC APPROACH "RETAINS THE INHERENT SIMPLICITY OF SERIES FEEDING BUT OVERCOMES THE NORMAL FREQUENCY DEPENDENT BEAM POSITION NORMALLY ASSOCIATED WITH SERIES FEEDS." IT IS THE AIR FORCE'S POSITION THAT TO OPTIMIZE YOUR DESIGN WOULD INVOLVE TIME CONSUMING EXPERIMENTAL EXERCISES. IN RESPONSE TO THE AIR FORCE CONTENTION THAT SEVERAL DIFFERENT DIRECTIONAL COUPLERS AND DELAY EQUALIZERS WILL HAVE TO BE DEVELOPED WHICH REPRESENTS A TECHNICAL RISK, YOU STATE THAT "THE BACKWARD-WAVE PARALLEL LINE TEM DIRECTIONAL COUPLER CHOSEN IN THE TDC APPROACH IS A STANDARD, WELL-UNDERSTOOD COMPONENT. THE DELAY EQUALIZERS REQUIRED ARE NOTHING MORE THAN LENGTHS OF OPEN WIRE TRANSMISSION LINE WHICH ARE FOLDED TO COMPACT DIMENSIONS. THERE IS NO DEVELOPMENT RISK INVOLVED IN SUCH A DESIGN, MERELY THE EXPERIMENTAL DETERMINATION OF THE ELECTRICAL LENGTH PHYSICAL LENGTH CORRESPONDENCE, WHICH IS A SIMPLE AND STRAIGHTFORWARD PROCEDURE." THE AIR FORCE HAS RESPONDED AS FOLLOWS:

"THE BACKWARD-WAVE PARALLEL LINE TEM DIRECTIONAL COUPLER IS WELL UNDERSTOOD. THE COUPLING IS A FUNCTION OF SPACING OF THE COUPLING LINE TO THE TRANSMISSION LINE. OBTAINING COUPLINGS OF THREE DB, SIX DB OR TEN DB WITHIN A TOLERANCE PLUS OR MINUS ONE OR TWO DB COULD BE ACHIEVED. OBTAINING COUPLINGS OF 3 DB, 4.8 DB, 6.0 DB, 7.0 DB, 8.5 DB, 9.0 DB, 9.5 DB AND 10.0 DB IS CONSIDERED TO BE AN INVOLVED, HAND TAILORING MEASUREMENT PROGRAM. VARYING THE SPACING ON 56 FEET OF OPEN WIRE LINE FOR THE LOW BAND ARRAY AND 28 FEET FOR THE HIGH BAND ARRAY TO ACHIEVE THE DEGREE OF COUPLING PROPOSED IS CONSIDERED A TEDIOUS MEASUREMENT EFFORT WITH A HIGH TECHNICAL RISK IN SUCCEEDING.

"THE DELAY LINE EQUALIZERS ARE NOTHING MORE THAN LENGTHS OF OPEN WIRE TRANSMISSION LINE WHICH ARE FOLDED TO COMPACT DIMENSIONS. THIS IS MERELY A MEASUREMENT EFFORT AS THE PROPOSAL STATES. HOWEVER, THE COMPACTNESS OF SUCH A LINE WITH 'AVERAGE' LENGTH OF 460 FEET MAY NOT BE COMPLETELY FREQUENCY INDEPENDENT. FOR EXAMPLE, FREQUENCY INDEPENDENCE IS A FUNCTION OF THE COMPACTNESS OF MUTUAL COUPLING. THE LONGEST DELAY LINE IS ON THE ORDER OF 900 FEET LONG. THESE DELAY LINES CAN BE MADE FREQUENCY INDEPENDENT BUT THE DEGREE OF COMPACTNESS AGAIN IS DETERMINED BY A TEDIOUS MEASUREMENT EFFORT. THESE TRANSMISSION LINES CANNOT BE TREATED THE SAME AS COAXIAL LINES OR WAVEGUIDES."

YOU DISAGREE WITH THE AIR FORCE DETERMINATION THAT THE FEED SYSTEM REQUIRING 48,000 FEET OF FEED LINE ALONG WITH WIRE TYPES OF DIRECTIONAL COUPLERS AND OTHER COMPONENTS RESULTS IN AN EXTREMELY COMPLEX STRUCTURE. IN REPLY, THE AIR FORCE EMPHASIZES THAT WHILE THE 48,000 FEET OF LINE IS NOT PER SE COMPLEX, TOGETHER WITH THE COUPLERS AND DELAY LINES THE DEGREE OF COMPLEXITY IS GREATER THAN NECESSARY.

FURTHER, THE AIR FORCE STRONGLY DENIES THE CONTENTION THAT RADC WAS PREDISPOSED TO A PARTICULAR TECHNICAL APPROACH WHICH SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISCLOSED TO TDC. IN THE ABSENCE OF CONTRARY EVIDENCE, WE MUST CONCLUDE FROM THE RECORD THAT RADC'S LOW CONFIDENCE IN TDC'S APPROACH RESULTED NOT FROM ANY PREFERENCE FOR ANOTHER SPECIFIC APPROACH, BUT RATHER FROM TDC'S FAILURE TO SUBSTANTIATE TO RADC'S SATISFACTION THE EFFECTIVENESS OF ITS DESIGN.

IN REGARD TO THE STATEMENT IN THE INITIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REPORT INDICATING THAT NEGOTIATIONS WERE TO BE RESTRICTED TO ONLY ONE OFFEROR, IT HAS BEEN REPORTED THAT DISCUSSIONS WERE IN FACT HELD WITH BOTH TECHNOLOGY FOR COMMUNICATIONS (TCI) AND CONTINENTAL ELECTRONICS MANUFACTURING. AS A RESULT OF THESE DISCUSSIONS, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER PROPOSES AN AWARD TO TCI.

WITH REGARD TO THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF NEGOTIATIONS, ASPR 3 805.1(A), IN IMPLEMENTATION OF 10 U.S.C. 2304(G), REQUIRES DISCUSSIONS ONLY WITH OFFERORS WHO SUBMIT PROPOSALS WITHIN A COMPETITIVE RANGE, PRICE AND OTHER FACTORS CONSIDERED. THE TERM "OTHER FACTORS" HAS BEEN HELD TO INCLUDE THE TECHNICAL ACCEPTABILITY OF PROPOSALS. SEE 46 COMP. GEN. 606, 610 (1967). WE HAVE RECOGNIZED THAT THE DETERMINATION OF COMPETITIVE RANGE, PARTICULARLY WITH RESPECT TO TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS, IS PRIMARILY A MATTER OF ADMINISTRATIVE DISCRETION WHICH WILL NOT BE DISTURBED IN THE ABSENCE OF A CLEAR SHOWING OF ABUSE OF SUCH DISCRETION. SEE 48 COMP. GEN. 314 (1968).

THE RECORD IN THE INSTANT CASE INDICATES THAT A COMPREHENSIVE TECHNICAL EVALUATION OF THE BASIC PROPOSALS WAS MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CRITERIA SET FORTH IN SECTION D OF THE RFQ. THE TECHNICAL PROPOSALS WERE EVALUATED BY A TEAM OF NINE EVALUATORS CONSISTING OF SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS. THE FINAL CRITIQUE WRITTEN ON ALL PROPOSALS WAS THE RESULT OF THE COMBINED JUDGMENT AND EXPERIENCE OF THE FULL EVALUATION TEAM. WE FIND NOTHING IN THE RECORD WHICH SUGGESTS THAT THIS EVALUATION WAS IMPROPER, UNFAIR, OR CONDUCTED IN BAD FAITH. ALTHOUGH YOU TAKE EXCEPTION TO THE DEFICIENCIES IN THE TDC PROPOSAL REFERRED TO IN THE AIR FORCE REPORT, WE CANNOT SAY THAT THE OVERALL EVALUATION, WHICH INCLUDED MANY ITEMS, WAS ARBITRARY OR CAPRICIOUS. ON THE CONTRARY, THE SCORING OF EACH PROPOSAL APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN OBJECTIVE AND IS SUPPORTED BY THE NARRATIVE PORTION OF THE TECHNICAL REPORT. THEREFORE, WE ARE UNABLE TO CONCLUDE THAT THE FAILURE TO CONDUCT DISCUSSIONS WITH TDC WAS AN ABUSE OF DISCRETION.

ACCORDINGLY, THE PROTEST IS DENIED.

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