GAO denies protest of Air Force award

The General Accounting Office has denied a protest by Cherokee Information Services Inc. concerning an Air Force contract awarded to Business Plus Corp. for operating an air operations command and control center at Langley Air Force Base, Va.

CIS protested the award on the grounds that the Air Force conducted unfair discussions with BPC and a third organization not named in the GAO decision, which was written by Anthony Gamboa, GAO general counsel, and handed down April 12.

"The Air Force satisfied its obligation here," Gamboa wrote. "The protest is denied."

The Air Force gave CIS the highest rating among the three competitors and found that the company's proposal included no major weaknesses that needed to be discussed with or addressed by CIS. The Air Force did, however, discuss with the other two companies weaknesses in their proposals.

Once BPC addressed the service's concerns, the Air Force awarded that company the contract because its price was lower than what CIS proposed.

CIS complained that the Air Force knew its price was based largely on the number of staff members included in the proposal and that the service did not inform the company that price was an issue before awarding the contract.

In denying the protest, GAO determined that although the Air Force had the option of discussing CIS' price, allowing the company to adjust staffing levels and lower price, the service was not legally required to do so.

The contract is a small business set-aside and calls upon the contractor to operate a delivery control center in support of the Air Operations Squadron at Langley.

The center's mission is to provide safe and timely worldwide delivery of up to 300 transoceanic monthly sorties for U.S. and foreign military aircraft. It serves as the command and control function for continuous monitoring of all aircraft deliveries.

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