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PROCUREMENT - Competitive Negotiation - Solicitation for Offers - Interpretation - Office Space DIGEST: Protest is sustained where protester reasonably interpreted solicitation requirement that any proposed office space be located in a building that has transit bus service within a quarter mile to mean service in both directions although agency maintains one-way service is sufficient under the solicitation. Trammell Crow alleges that award to BWC would be improper because the building offered by BWC does not meet a solicitation requirement that the office space be located in a building that is within a quarter mile of transit bus service. Stated that "transit (bus) service is required to be within one-fourth mile of building.".

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B-229492, Mar 8, 1988, 88-1 CPD 238

PROCUREMENT - Competitive Negotiation - Solicitation for Offers - Interpretation - Office Space DIGEST: Protest is sustained where protester reasonably interpreted solicitation requirement that any proposed office space be located in a building that has transit bus service within a quarter mile to mean service in both directions although agency maintains one-way service is sufficient under the solicitation. General Accounting Office recommends that protester be permitted to offer a second building which has bus service in only one direction.

Trammell Crow Company No.91 and Petula Associates, Limited:

Trammell Crow Company No. 91 and Petula Associates, Limited protests the proposed award of a 5-year lease for office space to Birtcher Wadsworth Company (BWC) under solicitation for offers R7-30N-87 issued by the General Services Administration (GSA) for offices for the Internal Revenue Service. Trammell Crow alleges that award to BWC would be improper because the building offered by BWC does not meet a solicitation requirement that the office space be located in a building that is within a quarter mile of transit bus service. We sustain the protest.

The solicitation, as amended, stated that "transit (bus) service is required to be within one-fourth mile of building." Trammell Crow complains that the property offered by BWC is not located within the required distance from the nearest bus service. In this regard, the protester states that BWC's property is within a quarter mile of a stop for westbound bus service but more than a quarter mile from eastbound bus service. The protester has submitted an affidavit which states that it has a building that is within the required distance from one way bus service but was told by a GSA contract specialist that such a building would not meet the solicitation's transit requirement. According to the protester's affidavit its building is located on Rafe Street, Carrollton, Texas.

The agency agrees with the protester concerning the location of the bus stops for BWC's building but replies that bus service in one direction within a quarter mile of the building is adequate to meet the solicitation requirements. It argues that one-way service both fits within the literal meaning of the solicitation language and meets its needs. Further, GSA states that eastbound bus service is available within 400 feet beyond the quarter mile limit, and notes that, in any event, a rider can board a westbound bus which stops within a quarter mile of the building and later transfer to any point on the bus line. GSA also reports that the eastbound bus stop, which is outside the quarter mile limit, is to be moved to a location within the quarter mile limit once construction at the site is complete.

While we recognize, as GSA argues, that the solicitation does not literally spell out that two-way transit service is required, we do not believe that the agency's interpretation is the only reasonable one in view of the obvious purpose of the requirement, ease of public access to the offices. Nevertheless, we do not dispute the agency's position that BWC's building with one-way bus service within the quarter mile limit and bus service in the opposite direction located about 400 feet beyond that limit would, in essence, meet its needs. As noted above, however, it is not completely clear from the wording of the solicitation restriction that such a building would be acceptable. In view of the unclear wording of the solicitation, we believe that the protester reasonably could have concluded that a building with two-way bus service within the quarter mile limit was required.

Under the circumstances here, where award has not been made and the offerors' prices have not been revealed, we think that the protester should be permitted to offer its allegedly lower cost building which it argues has a location comparable to BWC's. /1/ We therefore recommend that GSA permit the protester to promptly submit an offer based on the building described in its affidavit. GSA should evaluate that offer on the same basis as BWC's building. If the protester's offer is the most advantageous to the government, the protester should receive the award.

The protest is sustained.

/1/ While the agency denies that its representatives discussed the protester's allegedly lower cost building, the fact remains that the protester states that it has such a building and it may be acceptable under the agency's interpretation of the solicitation's transit requirement. Moreover, the protester alleges that the price it would have offered for this building is lower than the price of the building it offered.

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