Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
Disposition: Protest denied.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: It is the vendor’s responsibility to submit a well-written quotation, with adequately detailed information, that clearly demonstrates compliance with the solicitation requirements.
TechStart, LLC (TechStart) protests the award of a contract by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) under a request for quotations (RFQ) for emergency call boxes.
The VA issued the RFQ as a combined synopsis/solicitation for commercial items for the procurement of 17emergency call boxes. In addition to the emergency call boxes, the RFQ required offerors to provide several accessories, including “STROBE AND BLUESTAR LOCATOR LIGHT ASSEMBL[IES]” for each call box. The RFQ also stated that quotations were to be submitted as FOB Destination.
TechStart’s quotation specified another call box system as an equivalent. TechStart’s quotation offered the lowest price. TechStart provided an explanatory letter and product literature with its quotation to demonstrate the claimed equivalence of the other system. In reviewing the quotation, the agency found that the product literature did not indicate whether strobe and Bluestar locator light assemblies were included in the other system. Techstart also failed to indicate whether the assemblies were included in its quoted price. The agency also discovered that, while the quotation stated that it was priced FOB Destination, its price schedule listed shipping and handling charges. Further, the payment terms of TechStart’s quotation required a 25% initial deposit, which the contracting officer concluded the agency could not properly pay.
Rather than reject TechStart’s quotation immediately, according to the agency, the contracting officer made several attempts to contact TechStart for clarification. When no response was received, the contracting officer determined that TechStart’s quotation was ambiguous and not responsive to the RFQ.
TechStart asserts that the alleged ambiguities in its quotation were insignificant, and that a reasonable review of the quotation should have led the contracting officer to regard the issues as minor discrepancies. GAO has reviewed the record here and agrees with the contracting officer’s conclusion that TechStart’s quotation was unacceptable under the RFQ.
It is the vendor’s responsibility to submit a well-written quotation, with adequately detailed information, that clearly demonstrates compliance with the solicitation requirements. At the time the contracting officer determined to make the award, TechStart’s quotation remained ambiguous as to whether the strobe and Bluestar locator light assemblies were included and whether the shipping and handling charges applied, and required a 25% pre-performance deposit that the agency was not authorized to pay. Under these circumstances, the contracting officer properly concluded that TechStart’s quotation was unacceptable. The protest is denied.