Friday, March 21, 2014

Don't Rely on "Return Receipt Requested" to Ensure Your Proposal Was Submitted On Time

In a case that was decided last December but unpublished before this week, the Comptroller General denied a protest by a company that believed the Air Force unreasonably rejected its proposal. This case involved email - the bidder had evidence that a document was sent but the Government had no evidence to show that it was received.

The award of the contract was to be based on competition and proposals were to be evaluated on price, technical and past performance. Among the documents required from offerors was an organizational conflict of interest (OCI) plan, submitted no later than two weeks before the RFP close date.

The Air Force received proposals from 25 offerors. Among those was a proposal from DJW Consulting whose bid was rejected because DJW did not submit the required OCI plan. DJW protested, asserting that it had indeed submitted the required OCI plan.

The GAO stated in its decision that it is an offeror's responsibility to deliver its proposal to the proper place at the proper time. In earlier cases, GAO found an agency's rejection of a proposal is reasonable where, notwithstanding a protester's claim that it emailed its proposal to the agency, the record does not show that the proposal was actually received.

DJW said its representative emailed the OCI timely and requested an automated confirmation of delivery of that email through the company's email system. The trouble with that argument, the GAO responded, is that the confirmation came from DJW's server and did not come from the Air Force's server. Therefore, while there was evidence that the email left DJW's server, there was no evidence that it reached the intended recipient. The Air Force conducted a search of the server that supports the email accounts but did not identify any email concerning DJW's OCI plan. Additionally, the contracting officers went back into their records to see if they could locate the OCI plan and found nothing.

DJW also argued that the Air Force should have called them to ask about the missing plan. As discussed earlier, this was a competitive solicitation and the Air Force did not hold discussions with any offeror.

But for the email that got lost in the ether, DJW may have had a shot at winning this contract.

You can read the entire case by clicking here.

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