Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Great Journey West, LLC
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest challenging an agency’s issuance of an order under a brand name or equal procurement is denied, where the protestor’s quotation of an equal product failed to meet a salient characteristic of the solicitation.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Great Journey West, LLC (GJW) protested the issuance to Integrated Interiors International, Inc. of an order for office chairs. The RFQ, issued as a small business set-aside, sought quotations for 240 office chairs on a brand name or equal basis, with award to be made to the lowest-priced, technically acceptable quotation. The solicitation identified the brand name item, and listed several salient characteristics for the chairs. Although GJW offered the lowest price, GJW’s equal item was found technically unacceptable.
GJW argued that the agency rejected its equal product because it did not match products already in use by the agency, which GJW asserted was not identified as a salient characteristic in the solicitation. While the GAO agreed that the requirement to match was not listed in the solicitation, it pointed out that GJW’s equal chair was smaller than the brand name item and did not therefore meet the solicitation’s stated dimensional requirement. The GAO concluded that the agency reasonable found the quotation technically unacceptable.
When quoting an equal product, an offeror must provide detailed documentation that the equal products comply with the salient characteristics of the brand name products, or the offer may be considered technically unacceptable. Failure to indicate that the item satisfies each characteristic completely may result in the bid being rejected. An offeror should not rely on the possibility of having opportunity to clarify should the technical evaluator find the proposal lacking.