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A firm complained of the award of an advertised contract for industrial scrubbers. The award was made by the Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority (SEMTA) from grant funds administered by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA). Under the original solicitation, the protester offered a model which allegedly met all of the solicitation specifications. However, SEMTA canceled that solicitation and issued a new one, under which the protester bid the same model. The protester complained to SEMTA and to GAO that the awardee's model failed to meet solicitation specifications, and UMTA would not concur with the proposed award and instructed SEMTA to reject all bids, revise the solicitation to maximize competition, and readvertise. UMTA found that SEMTA had not adhered to the solicitation specifications and had not provided a process for obtaining approved equals. A third solicitation with new specifications was issued under which the protester and the awardee submitted the only bids. The protester's bid was low, but it was rejected as nonresponsive, since its model had not been given status as an approved equal. GAO held that the revised specifications were unduly restrictive and, therefore, eliminated competition. However, since the scrubbers had been delivered, GAO did not recommend remedial action. GAO could see no evidence of lack of good faith on the part of SEMTA which would impact adversely on its UMTA grant, and advised UMTA that needs analyses in support of specifications from agencies receiving grant funds should be carefully scrutinized to ensure adequate competition. Accordingly, the complaint was sustained.


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