Para Scientific Company
B-310742.2,B-310903, Feb 14, 2008
Para Scientific Company protests the corrective action proposed by the Department of the Navy, Fleet and Industrial Supply Center, San Diego, in response to Para Scientific's earlier protest of the issuance of an order to another firm under request for quotations (RFQ) No. N00259-07-T-0361, for microscope slides and slide cabinets. Para Scientific also protests the agency's cancellation of request for quotations (RFQ) No. N00258-08-T-0005, for histology cassettes, coverglasses, and chemical-resistant markers.
We deny the protests.
B-310742.2; B-310903, Para Scientific Company, February 14, 2008
Cancellation of request for quotations (RFQ) was proper where agency reasonably determined that the RFQ materially overstated its requirements and that revising the RFQ would lead to enhanced competition.
Para Scientific Company protests the corrective action proposed by the Department of the Navy, Fleet and
Para Scientific originally protested the issuance of an order to another firm under solicitation No. N00259-07-T-0361 on
On November 9, Para Scientific filed a second protest challenging the proposed corrective action, alleging that the agency's decision to cancel the solicitation was improper and could only be justified as an attempt to direct an order to a favored firm or to circumvent the bid protest process. Protest,
Each solicitation had the same contracting officer and the same contract negotiator, and each solicitation was intended to procure specified brand-name items. Supplemental Agency Report (SAR) at 3. Therefore, each solicitation was issued as a brand-name only requirement, rather than a brand name or equal requirement.
After Para Scientific challenged issuance of the order under that solicitation, the contracting officer reviewed the entire contract file and determined that there were significant problems with the solicitation that warranted cancellation. AR at 7. The contracting officer determined that the agency had (1) neglected to develop a sole source justification memorandum, (2) included technical evaluation criteria in the solicitation but had intended an award based solely on price, (3) included language in the solicitation that could suggest that or equal products would be considered even though the solicitation was issued as brand-name only, and (4) failed to permit a split-award where two disparate items were being solicited.
After conducting this comprehensive review of solicitation No. N00259-07-T-0361, the contracting officer realized that the same serious concerns existed with regard to solicitation No. N00258-08-T-0005. SAR at 6. The contracting officer therefore cancelled solicitation No. N00258-08-T-0005 based on the same rationale: that it was prudent to investigate whether the specifications could be less restrictive, and if a brand name or equal solicitation were warranted, issue a new solicitation including salient characteristics and all appropriate contract clauses.
Para Scientific asserts that the reasonable course of action for the agency was not to cancel the solicitations, but rather to issue orders to Para Scientific on the basis of its lowest priced quotations of technically equal alternative products. Para Scientific argues that it is being shunned for being creative in offering more economical or equal products where other firms merely offered the brand-name products. Protest,
A contracting agency need only establish a reasonable basis to support a decision to cancel an RFQ, Surgi-Textile, B-289370, Feb. 7, 2002, 2002 CPD para. 38 at 2, and may cancel no matter when the information precipitating the cancellation first arises, even if it is not until offers (or, as here, quotations) have been submitted and evaluated. A-Tek, Inc., B-286967,
Here, Para Scientific's own argument that its alternative products were technically equal to the agency's requirements supports the reasonableness of the agency's decision to cancel the solicitations, given that the solicitations were written as brand-name only requirements. Because the record reflects that the solicitations' brand-name only requirements may have been overly restrictive, and because the agency identified multiple other flaws in the two solicitations, we find that the agency's decision to cancel the solicitations was proper.
With regard to the allegation of bad faith implicit in Para Scientific's claims of retaliatory action and award manipulation, government officials are presumed to act in good faith and a protester's claim that contracting officials were motivated by bias or bad faith must be supported by convincing proof; our Office will not attribute unfair or prejudicial motives to procurement officials on the basis of inference or supposition. ACC Constr. Co., Inc., B-289167,
The protest is denied.
Gary L. Kepplinger
 Para Scientific quoted two prices in its response to the solicitation, one price for the items requested by the solicitation and an alternate, lower price, for or equal products that it regarded as technically equivalent. Agency Report (AR), Tab 4,
 In response to solicitation No. N00259-07-T-0361,