GAO: Email Filings Must Timely Arrive At Official Address

When bid protest document is emailed to the GAO, the document must timely arrive at the GAO’s official protest email address (protests@gao.gov), or the document is not timely filed.

As one protester recently learned the hard way, a GAO protest filing cannot be accomplished by emailing a protest document to any other email address–including the individual “gao.gov” email address of the GAO attorney handling the protest.

In The Continuum Engineering–Reconsideration, B-410298.2 (Feb. 12, 2015), the protester, The Continuum Engineering (“TCE”) requested the GAO reconsider its October 21, 2014 decision dismissing TCE’s protest challenging the award of a contract issued by the Department of State.  The GAO dismissed the protest because TCE failed to file its comments on the agency report within the time required by the GAO’s Bid Protest Regulations.

The Department of State submitted its agency report to the GAO and TCE on September 24, 2014.  Under GAO’s Bid Protest Regulations, TCE was required to file comments with the GAO within 10 days of receiving the agency report–in other words, on or before October 9, 2014.

On October 8, 2014, TCE emailed its comments to the individual addresses of the GAO attorney handling the case, the attorney’s supervisor, and a legal support staff member.  However, TCE’s comments were not sent to the email address designated in the Bid Protest Regulations for the filing of protests–protests@gao.gov.  On October 10, TCE forwarded its comments to protests@gao.gov. On October 21, the GAO dismissed the protest because TCE’s comments were not properly filed with the GAO within 10 days of the protester’s receipt of the agency report.

TCE requested that the GAO reconsider its decision, arguing that the protest should not have been dismissed.  The GAO disagreed:

“Our Bid Protest Regulations expressly establish that e-mail filing at our Office means timely filing at the e-mail address protests@gao.gov. See 4 C.F.R. 21.0(f) (“‘Protests and other documents may be filed by . . . e-mail (protests@gao.gov)’). Filing is not accomplished by e-mailing a protest document to any other e-mail address.  Therefore, where a protest document is e-mailed to GAO, and the document fails to timely arrive at protests@gao.gov, the document is not timely filed.”

The GAO noted that its Bid Protest Regulations provide that if a protester fails to timely file comments, its protest “shall be dismissed” by the GAO.  In TCE’s case, the comments were not received at the appropriate email address within the 10-day time frame.  Accordingly, the GAO determined that TCE’s protest was properly dismissed and denied TCE’s request for reconsideration.

The GAO’s decision in The Continuum Engineering is a reminder of how important it is that protest documents are timely and properly filed with the GAO.  As the Bid Protest Regulations state, “Please check GAO’s web site (http://www.gao.gov/legal/bidprotest.html) for current filing information.”

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