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Proposal Technically Unacceptable Because it Was Based on an Alternative Approach to Lifting Boat Out of Water for Dry-Dock Repairs

Posted on February 24th, 2017 by

Antico Cantiere Del Legno Giovanni Aprea Di Cataldo S.R.L., of Sorrento, Italy (“Antico”) submitted a quote for boat repairs to the Navy.  The Navy rejected its proposal as technically unacceptable because the method for lifting the boat out of the water differed from the dry-docking procedures set forth in the solicitation.  Specifically, the solicitation stated that the “[t]he craft will be removed [from the water] thru the use of a boat ramp and winch heaving system.” Antico planned on vertically removing the boat from the water with a boat travel lift.

Antico argued that its dry-docking procedures were preferred and that use of an inclined slipway hauling system was “obsolete,” “lacking of approved technical, engineering & safety certifications issued by the competent Italian Port Authorities,” and “known to transfer a great amount of undesired tensional stress [to] the boat’s wooden hull and superstructure elements.”

Even if Antico’s dry-docking procedures were better than what was specified in the solicitation, the GAO held that it will not disturb the Agency’s determination of its needs. Further, if Antico felt that the requirements were unduly restrictive it should have protested before the closing date for quotes.  In this regard, the GAO stated:

Antico does not dispute that its proposed dry-docking procedures were not those required by the solicitation. Rather, the protester argues that its alternate approach was preferable to–in fact, better than–those required by the RFQ. Contracting agencies, however, have broad discretion to determine their needs and the best way to meet them.4 See, e.g., Trandes Corp., B-411742.4, Feb. 22, 2016, 2016 CPD ¶ 61 at 6; URS Fed. Support Servs., Inc., B-407573, Jan. 14, 2013, 2013 CPD ¶ 31 at 4. Here, the RFQ’s dry-docking requirements were unambiguous. To the extent Antico believed that these requirements were improper, or that vendors should have been permitted to propose alternate drydocking approaches, it was required to challenge this perceived solicitation defect prior to the closing date for receipt of quotations. See 4 C.F.R. § 21.2(a)(1); DOER Marine, B-295087, Dec. 21, 2004, 2004 CPD ¶ 252 at 4 n.3. A vendor simply cannot wait until after award to dispute the merits of solicitation requirements with which it disagrees. The protest is denied.

The lesson learned here is not to wait until award to contest a solicitation requirement.  You must do so before proposals are due.

Antico Cantiere Del Legno Giovanni Aprea Di Cataldo S.R.L. , B-414112 (February 21, 2017)



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Posted on April 13th, 2012 by

We recently won a GAO protest where Department of Veterans Affairs engaged in improper discussions with a bidder.  Manfredonia Law Offices represented the protestor, Piquette and Howard Electrical Service, Inc., in a protest against the Department of Veterans Affairs to upgrade a fire alarm system at the VA Medical Center, Bedford, MA. The protest began when the VA deemed the protestor ineligible because it allegedly proposed to do work in buildings not specified in the plans, omitted buildings listed in the RFP and did not show experience with the fire alarm specified in the RFP.  P&H disagreed with each of these claims and filed a protest.  Because the protest had merit, the VA took corrective action and found that P&H’s proposal was acceptable and reevaluated proposals.

The VA subsequently announced it would award the contract to Monument Construction, LLC. P&H protested again. This time P&H argued that the VA engaged in improper discussions with Monument to render its proposal technically acceptable. The GAO agreed. The GAO held that, even though the VA characterized its communications with Monument as a request for clarifications, the GAO held that Monument was improperly allowed to amend its proposal. The GAO sustained the protest and awarded attorneys fees and costs to P&H. Protest of Piquette & Howard Electrical Service, Inc., B-408435.3 (December 16, 2013)


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