Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: Standard Communications, Inc.
Agency: General Services Administration
Disposition: Protest Sustained.
Protest that agency engaged in discussions with the awardee, but not the protester, is sustained where record shows that awardee was permitted to make material changes to its quote that had the effect of rendering its original, technically unacceptable quote acceptable, but the agency did not afford protester an opportunity to revise its quote.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Standard Communications, Inc. (SCI) protested the issuance of a task order to Advanced Systems, Inc. (ASI) to acquire a complete digital/analog voice telephone system and related services for the VA Medical Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina. ASI and a third vendor’s quotations had originally been considered unacceptable, but, following questions from the agency, ASI and the third vendor submitted material proposal revisions that led the agency to find their quotes technically acceptable. SCI’s response to the agency, on the other hand, only stated that its initial quote was complete, along with a narrative explanation as to why its quote was complete. SCI contended that the agency engaged in discussions with ASI but not with it, and that the agency also misevaluated the ASI quotation.
The GAO found that the agency had solicited and obtained material proposal revisions from ASI and the third vendor that ultimately led the agency to find their quotes technically acceptable; in so doing, the agency engaged in discussions with those firms. In contrast, the agency had only obtained clarifications from SCI, without permitting SCI an opportunity to revise its quote as well. It thus sustained the protest and recommended that the agency reopen the procurement and allow all competitors a chance to revise their quotations.
Contractors should pay special attention to any agency requests for additional information or clarifications from offerors following the submission of initial quotes. If one offeror is permitted to supplement, rather than clarify, its initial offer, other offerors should contact the agency to ensure that they are given the same opportunity. Should the agency fail to allow all offerors to revise their offers, a claim of improper discussions may be sustained.