Subcontractor Price Proposals: A Cautionary Tale

Subcontractors sometimes prefer to submit their cost or price proposals directly to the government, instead of submitting their cost or pricing information through the prime contractor.  In cases where a procuring agency allows it, such independent submissions can ease a subcontractor’s concerns about disclosing sensitive information to the prime contractor.

But when a subcontractor circumvents the prime contractor and independently submits its pricing, the prime contractor is unable to review the subcontractor’s proposal to ensure that it complies with the terms of the solicitation.  As demonstrated in a recent GAO bid protest decision, if the subcontractor’s proposal is non-compliant, the entire team may pay the price.

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GAO: 28-Day Proposal Period Was Reasonable

A 28-day period was sufficient time for offerors to prepare proposals in response to a solicitation for janitorial and mechanical services.

In a recent decision, the GAO held that, under the circumstances of the procurement, it was reasonable for the agency to allow fewer than 30 days to respond to the solicitation–and noted that the protester’s delayed search for teammates was a “significant reason” for the protester’s own difficulties in submitting a timely proposal.

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Offeror’s Email Proposal “Bounces Back,” Agency Not To Blame

A procuring agency was not at fault when an offeror’s emailed proposal “bounced back” because of the large size of the email.

In a recent decision, the GAO applied the general rule that it is “an offeror’s responsibility to deliver its proposal to the proper place at the proper time” and held that the agency was not to blame when its email server rejected the large email containing the offeror’s proposal.

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Proposal In Government Mailroom Was Still “Late”

Even if a proposal arrives in a government mailroom by the submittal deadline, the proposal is nevertheless “late” if it does not reach the location specified in the solicitation by the designated time.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO reaffirmed long-standing precedent that “receipt of a bid or proposal at a mailroom or other receiving area does not constitute receipt at the location specified in the RFP, provided the agency has established reasonable procedures to ensure that mailed bids or proposals are routed from the mailroom to the location designated in a solicitation for receipt.”

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GAO: Agency Need Not Consider Omitted Past Performance Information

An agency has no obligation to consider outside information bearing on an offeror’s past performance when the offeror fails to include information in its proposal.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO concluded that an agency had no obligation in its past performance evaluation or cost evaluation to import and consider favorable information the offeror could have, but did not include in its proposal.

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Prime Doesn’t Submit Teaming Agreement, Loses Evaluation Credit

A prime contractor submitting a proposal for a design-build project was not entitled to take advantage of the experience of its designer because the prime failed to submit a teaming agreement between itself and the designer.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that the agency properly viewed the designer as a subcontractor, and acted reasonably–under the specific terms of the solicitation–in refusing to award experience credit for the designer’s work because the prime did not submit a teaming agreement. Continue reading

Large Business’s Unmet Subcontracting Goals Result In “Marginal” Score

A large business was appropriately awarded a “Marginal” score for small business participation based on the large business’s history of failing to meet its small business subcontracting goals.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that the procuring agency properly assigned the large business a low score based on the large business’s history of unmet subcontracting goals, even though the large business apparently pledged to subcontract a significant amount of work to small businesses under the solicitation in question.

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