Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Sourcelinq, LLC
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Protest Denied. Request for Recommendation for Protest Costs Denied.
- Protest is denied where agency reasonably determined that descriptive literature for equal product submitted by protester in response to brand name or equal solicitation failed to demonstrate compliance with specified salient characteristics.
- Protester’s request for a recommendation that it be reimbursed its protest costs for an earlier protest pertaining to this acquisition is denied where protest was not clearly meritorious.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Sourcelinq, LLC protested the rejection of its quotation and the issuance of an order to FBC Enterprises, LLC to provide fitness equipment at Fort Stewart. The RFQ sought an assortment of basic fitness equipment on a brand name or equal basis, and indicated that equal products would be considered for award only if the vendor furnished descriptive literature demonstrating compliance with the salient characteristics provided by the RFQ. Sourcelinq quoted on other than the brand name items and furnished a brochure for its proposed rower and photographs of the other fitness equipment. Sourcelinq protested an initial award to FBC, and the agency took corrective action when it determined that it did not consider all Sourcelinq’s submitted photographs in its initial determination.
The GAO found that the agency reasonably determined that the descriptive literature and photographs submitted by Sourcelinq did not establish that the proposed equipment complied with the salient characteristics identified in the RFQ. It disregarded Sourcelinq’s claim that the agency should have sought additional information about the characteristics of the equipment via clarifications or discussions. Because Sourcelinq failed to propose a conforming product, the GAO found that it was therefore not an interested party to protest the agency’s evaluation of the reasonableness of FBC’s price. The GAO then denied Sourcelinq’s request for reimbursement of costs on the initial protest, noting that protest costs are reimbursable following corrective action only where the protest was clearly meritorious.
The decision is relevant to any contractor who seeks to provide products when an RFQ seeks the provision of brand name or equal products. A contractor 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. Photographs may be insufficient to allow the technical evaluator to determine that the equal products are compliant, and a contractor should not rely on the possibility of having opportunity to clarify should the technical evaluator find the documentation lacking.