If there’s anything worse than losing a GAO bid protest, it’s losing a GAO protest on a technicality.
One of the many conveniences GAO offers protesters is the ability to file protest-related documents by email. But protesters must timely file their documents at the email address provided under the GAO’s regulations—email@example.com–or their filings will be disregarded. As one protester learned the hard way, even emailing the document to the individual email address of the GAO attorney deciding the protest isn’t a substitute for using firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Andros Contracting, Inc., B-403117 (Sept. 16, 2010), a protester, Andros Consulting, Inc., filed a GAO protest (apparently without an attorney), challenging a Department of Veterans Affairs award to a competitor. The VA responded with an Agency Report, defending its actions.
Under the GAO’s regulations, a protester has 10 days following its receipt of an Agency Report to file “comments” on the report, addressing the agency’s arguments and any documents the agency may have produced. If a protester fails to file its comments by 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) on the tenth day, the GAO will dismiss its protest.
On the day its comments were due, Andros attempted to file by email, but used the incorrect email address, sending the comments to email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org. Andros also sent the comments to the GAO attorney handling the protest, using the attorney’s correct gao.gov email address.
Although the GAO attorney timely received the comments, they were not timely filed at the GAO’s official email address. The GAO dismissed the protest, stating that the comments had not been timely received at the correct email address.
Protesters should be very careful to always file all GAO protest-related documents at email@example.com if they are filing by email. If a document has been properly filed with the GAO, the GAO will respond within a moment or two with an automatic message indicating that it has been received. If automatic response doesn’t come through, email it again, or consider faxing the document to the GAO.