Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Bid restrictions; Cancellation
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: An Agency is free to cancel an IFB, even after bid opening, where the Agency determines that the IFB is overly restrictive and that the agency could enhance competition by loosening the restrictions and still meet its requirements.
The Department of the Army originally issued an invitation for bids (IFB) restricted only to Onan-brand engines with a limitation that the competition be restricted to Onan-certified distributors; Fermont was awarded the contract and Cummins challenged, stating that Fermont was not eligible because it is not a certified distributor of Onan engines. In response to the protest, the Army cancelled the IFB and stated that it would reissue it without the certified distributor restriction. Cummins then protested the cancellation of the IFB. The GAO noted that an agency’s desire to obtain enhanced competition by materially modifying specifications to make them less restrictive constitutes a valid and compelling reason for canceling an IFB under FAR § 14.404-1. Although Cummins may be prejudiced by the cancellation, the Army’s desire in this case to obtain enhanced competition relaxing the standards is both reasonable and acceptable.