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    Government Contracting Database

    Minimum Needs

    The government is required by to state only its actual minimum needs in describing supplies or services to be obtained. This description must further be in a manner “designed to promote full and open competition.” When a specification requirement is unnecessary and overstates the agency’s minimum needs then the specifications must be revised and offers re-solicited. Deere & Co., 70 Comp. Gen. 345 (1991). Moreover, and regardless of whether the specifications overstate the government’s minimum needs, solicitations must be drafted to inform all offerors in clear and unambiguous terms what is required of them so they can compete on an equal basis. Newport News Ship Building and Drydock Co., B-221888, 86-2 CPD ¶ 23 (Comp. Gen. July 2, 1986). In cases where a solicitation requirement is ambiguous or potentially misleading, with the result that bidders may respond to it based upon different assumptions, the requirement for competition on a common basis would be undermined. As a result, an agency would be uncertain that its needs would be met at the lowest price. See Brener Building Maintenance Company, Inc., B-235 370.02, 89-2 CPD ¶ 251 (Comp. Gen. Sep. 20, 1989); Rogers Mach. & Eng’g, B-245869, 1992 WL 59239 (Comp. Gen. Mar. 12, 1992)

    It is fundamental that the government has a reasonable discretion to determine its minimum needs. However, this discretion must be exercised reasonably, in light of the statutory mandates for full and open competition. The exercise of that discretion must have regard not only to the ultimate objective, but also to the physical and commercial realities of whether the particular specified results are practically achievable, and the availability of other means to the end which are less restrictive on competition. See, e.g., Janke & Company, Incorporated, B-225710, B-226897, 87-1 CPD ¶ 589 (Comp. Gen. June 12, 1987); Gentech Division of Indian Head, B-198654, B-199827, 81-1 CPD ¶ 128 (Comp. Gen. Feb. 24, 1981); Keco Industries, Inc., B-191856, 79-1 CPD ¶ 234 (Comp. Gen. April 5, 1979).

    Updated: August 2, 2018

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