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A firm protested a Department of Education contract award and its exclusion from the competitive range, contending that: (1) since its proposal was susceptible to being made acceptable with only minor revisions, the agency had an obligation to hold discussions with it and allow it to revise its proposal; and (2) any deficiencies in its proposal were due to inadequacies in the solicitation. The protester also claimed recovery of its bid preparation costs. GAO has held that: (1) the determination of the competitive range is within the discretion of the procuring agency, which it will not question absent clear evidence that the determination was unreasonable; (2) offers which are technically unacceptable, as submitted, and would require major revisions to be acceptable should not be included in the competitive range; and (3) protests based on alleged improprieties in a solicitation which are apparent prior to bid opening must be filed prior to that date to be considered timely. GAO found that the protester's failure to indicate its approach for immediate startup of services was a deficiency of such magnitude that a major revision would be required to make the proposal acceptable, and the agency reasonably excluded the protester from the competitive range. Accordingly, the protest was denied in part and dismissed in part, and the claim for bid preparation costs was denied.

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