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PROTEST BY SECOND LOW BIDDER AGAINST AWARD TO LOW BIDDER ON GROUNDS THAT LOW BIDDER WAS WITHOUT PRIOR GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE AND SUBMITTED BID SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER THAN GOVERNMENT ESTIMATE IS DENIED. SINCE PRIOR EXPERIENCE WAS NOT REQUIRED FOR DETERMINATION OF RESPONSIBILITY. FACT THAT LOW BID WAS MUCH HIGHER THAN ORIGINAL ESTIMATE DID NOT RESULT IN PREJUDICE TO ANY BIDDER. 676 WAS FOUND TO BE LOW. 286.06 WAS SECOND LOW. AFTER BIDS WERE OPENED. IT WAS ANNOUNCED THAT THE GOVERNMENT ESTIMATE FOR THE CONTRACT WAS $14. CLAIMING THAT AWARD SHOULD NOT BE MADE TO SUBURBAN BECAUSE THAT FIRM WAS NOT EXPERIENCED IN GOVERNMENT WORK AND BECAUSE ITS BID WAS ALMOST TWICE THE GOVERNMENT ESTIMATE. FURTHER ALLEGED THAT THERE WERE OBVIOUS AMBIGUITIES IN THE SPECIFICATIONS "BECAUSE OF THE LARGE DIFFERENCE IN THE *** BIDS AS OPPOSED TO GOVERNMENT ESTIMATE.".

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B-181009, APR 16, 1974

PROTEST BY SECOND LOW BIDDER AGAINST AWARD TO LOW BIDDER ON GROUNDS THAT LOW BIDDER WAS WITHOUT PRIOR GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE AND SUBMITTED BID SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER THAN GOVERNMENT ESTIMATE IS DENIED, SINCE PRIOR EXPERIENCE WAS NOT REQUIRED FOR DETERMINATION OF RESPONSIBILITY, AND FACT THAT LOW BID WAS MUCH HIGHER THAN ORIGINAL ESTIMATE DID NOT RESULT IN PREJUDICE TO ANY BIDDER. FURTHERMORE, WIDE DISPARITY IN BID PRICES RECEIVED DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY INDICATE AMBIGUITIES IN SPECIFICATIONS.

TO J.C.L. SERVICES, INC.:

THE DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY HAS FORWARDED THE PROTEST OF J.C.L. SERVICES, INC. (J.C.L.), AGAINST AWARD OF A CONTRACT TO SUBURBAN INDUSTRIAL MAINTENANCE COMPANY (SUBURBAN) UNDER INVITATION FOR BIDS NO. N62474-74-C- 5802 ISSUED BY THE LONG BEACH NAVAL SHIPYARD, LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA. THE SOLICITATION REQUESTED BIDS ON MAINTENANCE SERVICES FOR CLEANING VARIOUS AIR CONDITIONING, HEATING, VENTILATION AND EXHAUST SYSTEMS. AT BID OPENING ON FEBRUARY 26, 1974, SUBURBAN'S BID OF $24,676 WAS FOUND TO BE LOW, WHILE J.C.L.'S BID OF $37,286.06 WAS SECOND LOW. OTHER BIDS RANGED FROM $40,074.82 TO $74,200. AFTER BIDS WERE OPENED, IT WAS ANNOUNCED THAT THE GOVERNMENT ESTIMATE FOR THE CONTRACT WAS $14,850.

ON MARCH 1, 1974, J.C.L. FILED ITS PROTEST WITH THE CONTRACTING OFFICER, CLAIMING THAT AWARD SHOULD NOT BE MADE TO SUBURBAN BECAUSE THAT FIRM WAS NOT EXPERIENCED IN GOVERNMENT WORK AND BECAUSE ITS BID WAS ALMOST TWICE THE GOVERNMENT ESTIMATE. J.C.L. FURTHER ALLEGED THAT THERE WERE OBVIOUS AMBIGUITIES IN THE SPECIFICATIONS "BECAUSE OF THE LARGE DIFFERENCE IN THE *** BIDS AS OPPOSED TO GOVERNMENT ESTIMATE."

THE NAVY REPORTS THAT ITS ORIGINAL ESTIMATE WAS ERRONEOUS AND HAS BEEN CORRECTED TO $23,850. IT FURTHER REPORTS THAT IT IS NOT AWARE OF ANY SPECIFICATION AMBIGUITIES, AND THAT J.C.L. WAS UNABLE TO IDENTIFY SPECIFIC AMBIGUITIES WHEN REQUESTED TO DO SO. THE NAVY STATES THAT SUBURBAN WAS REQUESTED TO AND DID VERIFY ITS BID, AND THAT THE NAVY THEREFORE INTENDS TO AWARD A CONTRACT TO SUBURBAN AS THE LOW RESPONSIVE, RESPONSIBLE BIDDER.

J.C.L.'S PROTEST DOES NOT PROVIDE ANY BASIS FOR OUR OBJECTING TO AN AWARD TO SUBURBAN. A CONTRACT MAY NOT BE AWARDED TO A BIDDER UNTIL THAT BIDDER AFFIRMATIVELY ESTABLISHES ITS RESPONSIBILITY AS A PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTOR. ASPR 1.902. HOWEVER, PRIOR EXPERIENCE AS A GOVERNMENT CONTRACTOR IS NOT NORMALLY A REQUIREMENT FOR ESTABLISHING CONTRACTOR RESPONSIBILITY, AND WAS NOT A REQUIREMENT OF THIS SOLICITATION. ACCORDINGLY, THE NAVY COULD PROPERLY FIND SUBURBAN TO BE A RESPONSIBLE BIDDER NOTWITHSTANDING ITS ALLEGED LACK OF PRIOR GOVERNMENT CONTRACT EXPERIENCE. WITH RESPECT TO SUBURBAN'S BID, WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY ACCEPTANCE OF THAT BID WOULD BE IMPROPER MERELY BECAUSE IT WAS SUBSTANTIALLY HIGHER THAN THE ORIGINAL NAVY ESTIMATE. IT IS OBVIOUS THAT NONE OF THE BIDS WAS BASED ON THAT ESTIMATE, AND THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT ANY BIDDER WAS OR COULD HAVE BEEN PREJUDICED BY IT. IN ANY EVENT, THE ESTIMATE WAS SUBSEQUENTLY REVISED AFTER "IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT AN OMISSION WAS MADE ON THE ORIGINAL ESTIMATE," AND IT IS NOW IN LINE WITH THE BID SUBMITTED BY SUBURBAN. FINALLY, THE FACT THAT A WIDE RANGE OF BIDS WAS RECEIVED DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY INDICATE AMBIGUITIES IN THE SPECIFICATIONS. IN THE ABSENCE OF MORE SPECIFIC INFORMATION, IDENTIFYING ALLEGED AMBIGUITIES AND THE POSSIBLE PREJUDICE TO ONE OR MORE BIDDERS RESULTING THEREFROM, WE ARE UNABLE TO CONSIDER THIS POINT FURTHER.

FOR THE FOREGOING REASONS, THE PROTEST IS DENIED.

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