GAO: Late Is Late–Even If Agency Server Malfunctions

You’ve hit send on that electronic proposal, hours before the deadline and now you can sit back and feel confident that you’ve done everything in your power – at least it won’t be rejected as untimely – right?

Not so fast. If an electronically submitted proposal gets delayed, the proposal may be rejected–even if the delay could have been caused by malfunctioning government equipment. In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO continued a recent pattern of ruling against protesters whose electronic proposals are delayed. And in this case, the GAO ruled against the protester even though the protester contended that an agency server malfunction had caused the delay.

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GAO: Initial Proposal “Nullified” By Solicitation Amendment

When an initial proposal is nullified by a subsequent solicitation amendment, an offeror must timely resubmit its proposal–or be eliminated from the competition.

As one offeror recently learned, an agency can nullify initial proposals with a solicitation amendment that substantially changes the solicitaton’s terms.  When that happens, an offeror can no longer rely on its initial 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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Extreme Weather Didn’t Excuse Late Proposal

With winter weather descending on much of the country, it is all the more important for contractors to ensure that their proposals are submitted with time to spare.

In a recent bid protest decision, the Court of Federal Claims held that extreme weather at an offeror’s location did not excuse the offeror’s failure to deliver a timely proposal because there was no interruption of “normal government processes” at the government location designated to receive proposals.

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GAO: 45-Minute Bid Confirmation Deadline Was Unreasonable

A procuring agency acted unreasonably by leaving a voicemail for a winning bidder requiring confirmation of the bid within 45 minutes of the voicemail.

In a recent GAO bid protest decision, the GAO found that the winning bidder had already confirmed its bid by responding to a Bid Validation request sent by the FedBid electronic reverse auction system.  Under these circumstances, the agency’s second request for a bid validation–with a very short response time–was improper.

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GAO: Emailed Proposal In Agency’s Possession Was Not “Late”

In a victory for common sense, the GAO has held that a proposal that was in the agency’s possession before the due date was not “late,” even though the offeror emailed the proposal to the agency instead of submitting it through an online portal.

The agency’s attempt to reject the proposal was particularly egregious because the agency told the protester that the proposal could be submitted by email–then rejected the proposal when the protester did just that.

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