Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Nas/Corp-Telmah, Inc.
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest that agency unreasonably evaluated protester’s quotation as unacceptable is denied where agency properly concluded that protester’s quotation did not show that its microscope met the salient characteristics under the brand name or equal terms of the solicitation
General Counsel PC Highlight:
Nas/Corp-Telmah, Inc. (NCTI) protested the award to Metro Medical Equipment & Supply, Inc. of a contract for a surgical ophthalmic microscope for the VA Medical Center in Salisbury, North Carolina. The RFQ indicated that vendors were to provide a Zeiss OPMI Lumera 700 microscope and components, or an equal product, and listed 10 salient characteristics that had to be satisfied by any product offered as equal to the brand name. NCTI offered a non-brand name microscope, and included with its quotation a three-page document comparing its microscope with the salient characteristics of the brand name. The agency concluded that NCTI’s quotation was not equal to the brand name and rejected NCTI’s bid.
The GAO found that the agency reasonably determined NCTI’s quotation to be unacceptable. It noted that NCTI’s quotation did not indicate whether its microscope complied with requested specifications; for instance, its quotation indicated that the item had a foot pedal, but did not state whether it was a wireless foot pedal as required. Although NCTI provided additional information during the development of the protest indicated that its microscope satisfied additional salient characteristics, this information was not in the quotation, and thus the agency’s determination that the proposal was unacceptable was reasonable.
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 documentation lacking.