In the competitive federal marketplace, businesses are always looking for ways to make their proposals more competitive. With millions of dollars at stake, it is no surprise that some competitors develop clever approaches to give their proposal a competitive edge.
As one competitor recently discovered, however, there is a point where an offer can get too clever, which may result in proposal elimination. Especially when an agency views the clever approach as violating a solicitation staffing requirement.
It is well understood that offerors must submit proposals that meet the procuring agency’s requirements, including any page limitations set by the solicitation. But what if an offeror’s proposal contains an obvious layout and printing error that inadvertently puts required information outside the established page limits? Does the agency have a duty to seek clarifications or allow corrections?
GAO says no.
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.
When submitting bids, contractors should always double check their proposal submission methods, whether it be a designated portal, email, or any other method, and do so well before the deadline.
GAO recently had the opportunity to examine proposal submission issues related to a US Navy procurement, and did not show sympathy for the contractor who experienced proposal submission issues right at the deadline.
Ahh, fall. A time for football, hay rides, and returning to campus. Being in a college town, we are always reminded that students are back on campus due to the increased traffic, the homecoming parade, and the increased buzz (no pun intended) around the town. The onset of fall sometimes dredges up unwanted memories about turning in term papers and meeting all the inane requirements insisted upon by the professor.
A recent GAO opinion also brought me back to my college days. Specifically, what happens when the government (kind of like a college professor) sets a requirement for a certain type of file format for a solicitation, but the offeror submits a proposal in a different file format? A recent GAO opinion answers that question in the contractor’s favor–although GAO’s ruling isn’t a blanket permission slip for contractors to ignore file format requirements.
Federal contractors frequently find themselves in the position of needing to establish their past performance credentials to secure future contracts – the government’s form of a reference check. The government often performs these reference checks by requesting completed past performance questionnaires, or PPQs, which the government uses as an indicator of the offeror’s ability to perform a future contract.
But what happens when a contractor’s government point of contact fails to return a completed PPQ? As a recent GAO decision demonstrates, if the solicitation requires offerors to return completed PPQs, the agency need not independently reach out to government officials who fail to complete those PPQs.
A prospective contractor was kicked out of a competition for submitting its pricing in PDF format, instead of in Microsoft Excel files, as called for in the solicitation.
In a bid protest filed by the excluded offeror, the GAO held that the procuring agency properly deemed the offeror unacceptable for failing to use Excel.
Somewhere, Bill Gates is smiling.