Competition is a part of doing business and is a cornerstone of government contracting. While contractors often wish they did not have to compete against other contractors for an award, attempts to limit their competition for government contracts often do not work. That was the case recently when a protester unsuccessfully challenged the government’s decision to include its competitor in the competitive range.

The Protest

In ICI Servs. Corp., B-418255.4, 2020 CPD ¶ 302 (Sep. 23, 2020), ICI Services filed a pre-award protest challenging the Navy’s decision to include another offeror in the competitive range. The offeror was readmitted to the competition as part of the Navy’s corrective action after the offeror successfully protested its exclusion. ICI Services argued that allowing the offeror back into the competition and holding discussions with the offeror would improperly favor the offeror.

Conclusion

GAO dismissed the protest concluding that the protest was premature because the Navy had yet to make an award decision. Noting that the determination of whether a proposal is in the competitive range is principally a matter within the sound discretion of the contracting agency, GAO stated that decisions regarding whether an offeror should be included in the competitive range are matters that should be addressed after award. Indeed, as GAO noted, the protester still may receive the contract award. Assuming ICI Services is not selected for award, the protester could raise any appropriate evaluation errors at that time.

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