In Matter of: Standard Communications, Inc., B-406021 (January 24, 2012), the Comptroller General sustained a bid protest because the agency engaged in discussions with the awardee, but not the protester.

The agency characterized it’s communications with the awardee as clarifications rather than discussions, but the GAO was not persuaded. As a result of the “clarifications”, the awardee’s proposal went from being rated technically unacceptable to technically acceptable – thus GAO inferred that material changes in the awardee’s quote had been allowed. GAO said discussions occur where a firm is allowed to make material revisions to its quote or proposal.

The agency did not afford protester an opportunity to revise its quote. Therefore, GAO sustained the protest and recommended the agency reopen the procurement and afford all competitors an opportunity to revise their quotations.

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