According to the GAO, an offeror may revise its price as part of a final proposal revision, unless the procuring agency expressly limits the scope of proposal revisions.
In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO held that the agency properly accepted the awardee’s revised price because agency had not limited the scope of discussions so as to exclude price revisions.
The GAO’s decision in Medical Receivables Solution, B-409358 (Mar. 19, 2014) involved a Army 8(a) set-aside solicitation for medical records coding services. Award was to be made to the lowest-priced, technically acceptable offeror.
After evaluating initial proposals, the Army established a competitive range of six offerors. The Army then conducted written discussions with offerors concerning the specific weaknesses and deficiencies in their proposals. The Army’s discussion letter asked each offeror to address its identified weaknesses and deficiencies and submit a final proposal revision, highlighting all changes.
Infused Solutions, LLC, was included in the competitive range. Although price was not mentioned as a weakness or deficiency in Infused Solutions’ proposal, Infused Solutions nonetheless lowered its price as part of its final proposal revision. The Army ultimately accepted Infused Solutions’ revised price as the lowest, and awarded the contract to Infused Solutions.
An unsuccessful competitor, Medical Receivables Solution, Inc., filed a GAO bid protest. MRS argued that the Army’s discussion letter limited offerors’ final proposal revisions to the specific weaknesses and deficiencies identified for each offeror, and that Infused Solutions’ final proposal revision improperly went beyond the scope of the discussions. MRS also contended that the Army’s discussions were misleading because the Army did not inform offerors that they could revise their prices.
The GAO wrote that “[i]n general, when an agency opens or reopens discussions with offerors, the offerors may revise any aspect of their proposals, including portions of their proposals which were not the subject of discussions.” The GAO continued, “[i]n appropriate circumstances, however, agencies may limit the revisions that offers may make to their proposals following discussions.”
In this case, the GAO held that MRS’s interpretation of the Army’s instructions during discussions was not reasonable. The GAO noted, “the Army’s letter regarding discussions did not contain any specific language limiting offerors to the items that were the subject of the discussions.” Given the absence of such limiting language, “we do not think that the agency’s discussion questions and request for revised proposals limited offerors’ ability to revise other parts of their proposals that were not related to the discussion questions–such as price.” The GAO denied MRS’s protest.
Some government contractors mistakenly believe that, whenever discussions are offered, proposal revisions are limited to the items raised by the agency. Not so. As the Medical Receivables Solution decision demonstrates, unless the agency expressly limits the scope of revisions, offerors may revise any aspect of their proposals, including those portions which were not the subject of discussions.