When responding to a Government solicitation (e.g. an RFP or RFQ), it is always the contractor's (or vendor's) responsibility to submit a well-written quotation with adequately detailed information, that clearly and concisely demonstrates compliance with the solicitation requirements. Failure to do so will result in the bid being declared not responsive and excluded from further consideration. Appeals of contracting officer actions in throwing out non-responsive bids rarely succeed. Only in rare instances where the Government's actions were egregious will a bidder have a hope to sustain an appeal. And even if sustained, the contractor has no certainty that it will win the award.
A recent GAO decision on just such an appeal, illustrates this point (TechStart, LLC, B-403515, November 10, 2010). A contractor's bid was not responsive to the solicitation requirements. The contracting officer, although not required to do so, made several attempts to contract the bidder by phone and by email for clarification. When the bidder failed to respond, the contracting officer made the award to another bidder.
Upon appeal, the bidder asserted that the alleged ambiguities in its quotation were insignificant, and that a reasonable review of the quotation should have led the contracting officer to regard the issues as minor discrepancies. GAO reviewed the record and sided with the contracting officer. When the GAO reviewed the facts, they agreed that the contracting officer did not have enough information to determine whether the bid was responsive to the solicitation requirements.
The bidder also claimed to have not received the contracting officer's queries. The GAO ruled that was irrelevant because the contracting officer was under no obligation to seek to resolve issues. The GAO ruled that it is the vendor's responsibility to submit a well-written quotation, with adequately detailed information, that clearly demonstrates compliance with the solicitation requirements. Under these circumstances, the contracting officer properly concluded that the bidder's quotation was unacceptable and that award should be made to another company.
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