Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Air Force
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Solicitation amendment; Corrective action; Disclosure of price
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: When taking corrective action in response to a protest, reopening the competition and requesting revised proposals is not improper merely because the awardee’s price has been released in the initial award notice.
The Internal Revenue Service issued a solicitation for the conversion of sensitive but unclassified information from paper-based documents to digital format. After receiving proposals from Laducer & Associates, Inc. and Mandaree Enterprise Corporation, the IRS awarded the contract to Laducer. Mandaree protested that source selection decision, at which point the IRS informed GAO that it would cancel the contract, reevaluate proposals, and make a new decision. Mandaree’s protest was dismissed. At that point, the IRS determined that it would amend several of the solicitation requirements by revising, updating and clarifying an assortment of the quantity estimates, schedules for release of certain forms and an addition to the technical capability evaluation factor. Laducer then protested the IRS’s decision to amend.
In principal, Laducer alleged that since its price had been disclosed in connection with the initial award announcement, any reopening of the procurement process would be inappropriate. In addition, Laducer also argued that the amendment to the technical capability evaluation factor effectively revealed the technical approach that Laducer had provided in its proposal.
When contracting agencies determine that corrective action is necessary to ensure fair and impartial competition, they are given broad discretion; in particular, unless otherwise objectionable, a request for revised proposals is not improper just because the awardee’s price has been exposed. Here, the IRS was concerned that the terms of the original solicitation were unclear to the offerors and thus took steps to update the estimates and information provided. Further, the IRS stated that the solicitation amendment did not disclose any of Laducer’s proprietary information. For the above reasons, the GAO denied Laducer’s protest.