By 2020, most of us have gotten used to almost immediate means of digital communication. We expect emails to reach their destination at lightning-fast speeds—but this isn’t always the case.
Relying on this expectation can have devastating effects, as it did for a protester in one recent GAO case.
You might think that if you send an email with the delivery receipt option and the delivery receipt comes back, the email was delivered. But when an offeror submits a proposal by email, does a delivery receipt mean that the agency necessarily received the proposal in its inbox?
At least under the facts of one recent GAO bid protest, the answer was “no.” In that case, the GAO held that an email delivery receipt wasn’t sufficient to demonstrate that the agency received the electronic proposal.
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.
An offeror’s proposal was properly rejected as late because the proposal exceeded the agency’s email file size limit.
In a recent bid protest decision highlighting the importance of not submitting electronic proposals at the last minute, the GAO held that a small business’s proposal was late because the emails transmitting the proposal exceeded 10 MB–even though the solicitation didn’t mention a file size limit.