C’mon, Prove It: Contractor Rejected Because It Cannot Prove Agency Received Proposal

When a contractor submits its proposal information to an agency, the contractor should be careful to preserve evidence—a fax receipt, “sent” email, or, better yet, a FedEx or certified mail confirmation, showing that the agency received it.  Otherwise, as the GAO held in Industrial Construction & Trading Co., B-403849 (Dec. 13, 2010), the contractor is out of luck if the agency says it did not receive the document.

In the Industrial Construction & Trading bid protest, the solicitation called for offerors to submit their proposal information piecemeal—first past performance information, then technical, management, and price proposals.  The agency received a past performance spreadsheet from Industrial Construction & Trading, Inc. by the appropriate deadline, but the spreadsheet did not contain all of the information required by the solicitation.  Accordingly, the agency rejected the company’s proposal.

ICTI filed a GAO protest, arguing that it had sent a revised spreadsheet to the agency before the deadline, containing all of the necessary information.  Unfortunately, ICTI had no evidence—outside of its own statement—to support the contention.  The GAO (sounding skeptical of ICTI’s claim that it had actually submitted a revised spreadsheet), denied the bid protest, and held that the agency properly rejected ICTI’s proposal.

Giving ICTI the benefit of the doubt, and assuming it timely submitted the required information, it is unfortunate that the company’s proposal was rejected.  But ICTI didn’t do itself any favors by failing to preserve any evidence that it sent, or the agency received, the revised spreadsheet.

Although agencies typically do a good job of keeping track of documents—particularly given how many they receive—it is not unheard of for a contractor’s proposal (or a portion of a proposal) to get lost in the shuffle.  If that happens, the Industrial Construction & Trading GAO decision suggests that the contractor is out of luck unless it can prove that the agency received, or should have received, the document on time.

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