When submitting proposals to the Government, it is absolutely imperative that offerors follow the solicitation instructions. Submissions arriving after the cut-off date, are rejected from consideration (see FAR 15.208). Additionally, it has been firmly and consistently established through numerous bid protests that it is the offeror's responsibility to deliver its proposal at the proper place and the proper time.
If a Government agency/organization/employee somehow contributes to the delay, there may be a basis for accepting a late bid. However, even in cases where the late receipt may have been caused, in part, by erroneous government action, a late proposal should not be considered if the offeror significantly contributed to the late receipt by not acting reasonably in fulfilling its responsibility (O.S. Sys., Inc., B=292827, Nov. 17, 2003).
In a recent bid protest decision involving an offeror whose proposal was rejected because it was late, the Comptroller General sided with the Air Force. An offeror delivered its proposal to a commercial carrier for delivery to the Air Force. The commercial carrier arrived at the gate in sufficient time to deliver the proposal to the proper place at the proper time, but chose not to enter the base at that time to avoid waiting in a long line. The GAO ruled that the paramount cause for the late delivery was not improper government action.
Offerors should always allow for delays, disruptions, and other encumbrances in their timeline and submission schedules. The Government is very unforgiving of late submissions.
To read the full decision discussed above, click here.