I'm new to this contracting forum so please forgive me if this question has already been asked and answered before.
So I am in the middle of writing up my formal response to a protest I've received. I've been searching the FAR up and down and can't seem to find the exact FAR reference I am looking for and was wondering if this forum could be of assistance. I’ve looked in FAR parts 5, 10, 12, 13, 14, and 15, including DFARS references.
The back story is: a vendor provided us with a market research quote on 6/29/17. Solicitation was posted on GSA from 8/14/17 - 8/18/17 and I received 3 quotes, including this vendor’s quote. Their quote was found to be technically acceptable but was higher than their original market research quote and was not chosen for award because they did not provide the best value to the government with price being the determining factor. They are protesting that we should have accepted their original quote from 6/29/17. The FAR reference I am looking for should say something like "Quotes from offerors in response to a solicitation can only accepted." Does anyone know of a reference like that in the FAR or a similar one that I can use for my formal protest letter? The FAR references that I think might talk to this is: FAR 13.106-2(a)(2), FAR 14.103-2, FAR 14.301(a)(1), FAR 15.201(c)(3), and FAR 15.208(a).
I attempted to resolve this issue through cordial conversations, according to the guidance in FAR 33 “Protests”, prior to the protest and I explained to the vendor that quotes can only be accepted in response to a solicitation, not market research quotes. He didn't like that answer. So now I'm in a protest. I want to make it crystal clear to the vendor in my letter so as to avoid a GAO protest. Thank you for your time and assistance!