Two firms protested the cancellation of an Air Force solicitation for radio and battery chargers, contending that: (1) the contracting officer did not have a compelling reason to cancel the solicitation; (2) although the solicitation specifications were defective, there was no justification for cancelling the solicitation since their products could satisfy the government's actual needs; and (3) a resolicitation would only result in the receipt of the same two bids on the same products. GAO noted that the Air Force cancelled the solicitation because the specifications were inadequate and ambiguous and, although the products offered satisfied its actual needs, neither bid complied with the solicitation requirements. GAO held that: (1) when an equal product does not meet a precise performance feature listed as a salient characteristic, the contracting agency must reject the bid as nonresponsive even though the product meets the government's actual needs; (2) inadequate or ambiguous specifications are a basis for a contracting officer's decision to cancel a solicitation; (3) the agency's overstatement of its actual needs was a material solicitation deficiency which required solicitation cancellation and resolicitation; and (4) since the excessive specifications resulted in two nonresponsive bids and may have caused other potential bidders not to compete, the Air Force had a reasonable basis to cancel the solicitation. Accordingly, the protests were denied.
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