Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Brand name or equal
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: It is the vendor’s responsibility to include sufficiently detailed information in its proposal to establish that the item offered will meet solicitation requirements, and blanket statements or certifications of full compliance are insufficient.
Medfinity, LLC protests the issuance of a purchase order, under a request for quotations (RFQ), issued by the Department of the Army for dental filmless imaging systems (DFIS).
The RFQ was issued on a brand name or equal basis and solicited quotations for 100 DFISs. The solicitation identified the Dexis DX101 system as the brand name product, listed salient characteristics that had to be satisfied by any product offered as “equal” to the brand name item, and required that vendors submit descriptive literature to demonstrate compliance with those characteristics. The salient characteristics required that the system be composed of a sensor; a Panasonic Toughbook Model laptop or equivalent; imaging software; and bitewing rings, holders and accessories, all contained in a Hardigg case.
Medfinity quoted a system that was a purported equal to the brand name, a Rugged Notebook Eagle model laptop, and a Mil-Standard Waterproof case along with a two-page proposal containing descriptive literature. The awardee quoted the brand name product. The agency determined that Medfinity’s product was unacceptable because there was not enough information provided to conclude that the product met all salient characteristics.
GAO states that it is the vendor’s responsibility to include sufficiently detailed information in its proposal to establish that the item offered will meet solicitation requirements, and blanket statements or certifications of full compliance are insufficient. Additionally, with respect to a brand name or equal solicitation, a firm offering an equal product must demonstrate that the product conforms to the salient characteristics of the brand name product listed in the solicitation. The contracting agency is responsible for evaluating the data submitted and ascertaining if it provides sufficient information to determine if the vendor’s product is acceptable. GAO will review an agency’s determination in this regard to ensure it was reasonable.
GAO finds the agency’s determination reasonable. The record supports the agency’s finding that Medfinity’s quotation consisted primarily of blanket statements of compliance, without explanation or elaboration. For example, the proposal states that the equal product “is DICOM compliant” and connects to the laptop “via a USB or PCMCIA Card.” Medfinity’s proposal did not establish compliance with requirements and failed to address the majority of the salient characteristics detailed by the RFQ. The protest is denied.