PROCUREMENT - Bid Protests - GAO procedures - Interested parties - Direct interest standards DIGEST: Protest by firm not in line for award if the protest were sustained is dismissed since protester does not have the direct economic interest in the contract award to be considered an interested party under General Accounting Office Bid Protest Regulations. Redwood argues that City's offer was unacceptable for the following reasons: lack of site control or ownership. Redwood also argues that GSA improperly evaluated proposals because Redwood was unreasonably downgraded in the two most important non-price factors. Nine responses were received. Discussions were held. Best and final offers (BAFO) were requested.
B-241050, Jan 14, 1991, 90-2 CPD 32
PROCUREMENT - Bid Protests - GAO procedures - Interested parties - Direct interest standards DIGEST: Protest by firm not in line for award if the protest were sustained is dismissed since protester does not have the direct economic interest in the contract award to be considered an interested party under General Accounting Office Bid Protest Regulations.
Charles Redwood Limited Partnership:
Charles Redwood Limited Partnership protests the award of a lease to City Crescent Limited Partnership under solicitation for offers (SFO) No. MMD99999, issued by the General Services Administration (GSA) for office space in Baltimore, Maryland. Citing various solicitation provisions, Redwood argues that City's offer was unacceptable for the following reasons: lack of site control or ownership; location outside of the city's prime commercial district; lack of conditional commitment of funds; and an inability to accommodate the SFO's antenna requirements. Redwood also argues that GSA improperly evaluated proposals because Redwood was unreasonably downgraded in the two most important non-price factors, experience and ability to efficiently lay out space. Redwood also claims that acceptance of City's offer raises conflict of interest and integrity issues justifying rejection of City's offer.
We dismiss the protest.
The SFO called for firm, fixed-price offers and provided that price and technical factors in the aggregate would be of equal weight in the agency's award decision. The SFO also stated that award would be made to the firm submitting the proposal deemed most advantageous to the government considering price and the technical evaluation criteria. The SFO listed four technical evaluation criteria, in descending order of importance: offeror experience and performance; ability to efficiently lay out space; building quality; and proximity to existing Federal and Courthouse buildings.
Nine responses were received. After evaluation of initial offers, discussions were held. Best and final offers (BAFO) were requested. After BAFOs, the evaluators again rated the proposals, and a price evaluation was conducted. City Crescent was low priced. Redwood's price was seventh low. With regard to the four technical factors, Redwood was rated sixth overall under experience and space layout, the two most important factors. Under the least two important factors, Redwood received a "very good" rating, the best rating which could be assigned. Based on the evaluation of price and other factors, the agency concluded that City's offer was the most advantageous. The source selection memorandum ranked the other offers in descending order of acceptability for award. Redwood was ranked six out of seven.
Regarding Redwood's challenge to City's acceptability, the record shows that, if Redwood's protest were sustained, and City eliminated from the competition, there are four firms which would be in line for award whose offers are not the subject of any challenge to their acceptability or the ranking for award based on GSA's technical/cost tradeoff. Further, assuming Redwood received the highest rating available under the two most important evaluation factors, it would still not be in line for award. The other four firms' ratings are as high, or so marginally different, that based on Redwood's higher price, Redwood would still not receive the award.
Under our Bid Protest Regulations, 4 C.F.R. Sec. 21.0(a) (1990), a party must be "interested" in order to have its protest considered by our Office. Determining whether a party is sufficiently interested involves consideration of a party's status in relation to a procurement. Where there are intermediate parties that have a greater interest than the protester, we generally consider the protester to be too remote to establish interest within the meaning of our Bid Protest Regulations. See Automated Servs., Inc., B-221906, May 19, 1986, 86-1 CPD Para. 470; Brunswick Corp. and Brownell Co., Inc., B-225784.2, B-225784.3, July 22, 1987, 87-2 CPD Para. 74. A party will not be deemed interested where it would not be in line for the protested award even if the protest were sustained. See Brunswick Corp. and Brownell Co., Inc., supra.
As Redwood has not contested the standing of any of the other four firms' offers found as a result of the agency's technical/cost tradeoff to be more advantageous to the government, we have no reason to believe that Redwood would be in line for award if its protest were sustained. Accordingly, Redwood is not an interested party entitled to protest the propriety of the award to City. /1/
The protest is dismissed.
/1/ The protester also argues that GSA conducted improper post-BAFO discussions with City requiring reopening of the competition. Redwood refers to communications from City to GSA dated after the submission of BAFOs. Our review of the record shows that they generally relate to the responsibility of the firm. Requesting or obtaining information to ascertain a firm's responsibility does not constitute discussions so as to require that discussions be held with and revised proposals be solicited from all other offerors in the competitive range. NFI Management Co., B-238522; B-238522.2 June 12, 1990, 69 Comp.Gen. ***; 90-1 CPD Para. 548. In any event, there is no indication that the letters were evaluated to determine the technical acceptability of the offeror. See id.