Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Proposal Gets Caught Up in Government's Spam Filters

If you're submitting a proposal via email, be sure to call the intended recipient and verify receipt. Make that call before the deadline for proposal submission. Its a simple step and will help preclude unfortunate circumstances like the following.

The GAO recently issued a decision regarding a late proposal submission. The GAO denied the appeal of a bidder whose proposal was sent on time, to the correct email address, but got caught up in the Agency's spam filter and never made it to the contract specialist. The GAO acknowledged that a message was received by the Agency from the bidder but since it was blocked and subsequently deleted, the Agency had no way of knowing whether the message received from the bidder contained a proposal attachment.

The Agency explained the problem this way:
The agency relies on an “extensive” series of email security services that sit between the DHS headquarters email servers and the internet. Some of these security services--what DHS refers to as the Edge-- include anti-virus, spam, and spyware interdiction that scrutinize “many millions of inbound messages daily” prior to the emails moving forward to the DHS email servers. In this respect, the Edge prevents spam and other malicious emails from ever reaching the DHS email servers and purges these potentially contaminated emails. The agency reports that an “exhaustive” search of the Edge spreadsheet logs revealed what the DHS IT team referred to as an “artifact” that showed the “tracking of an email” from the bidder addressed to the contract specialist. That is, the logs showed that an email from the bidder may have reached the Edge level of IT security on September 8; however, no email from the bidder passed through the Edge firewall to the DHS email servers. Moreover, because DHS purges potentially malicious emails within a week, by the time the bidder filed its protest and the IT team conducted its search, the Edge no longer included a copy of any actual email from the bidder.
That would seem like an honest mistake, right? One that the Government should rectify, right? Nope. The GAO wasn't at all sympathetic. The GAO concluded:
We agree with the agency that whether the bidder timely uploaded its quotation to the GSA e-Buy portal--and it appears that the vendor did--is of no consequence here. In this regard, it is the responsibility of each vendor to deliver its quotation to the proper place at the proper time. 
Like we advised earlier, make the phone call to verify receipt of your proposal.

You can read the entire decision by clicking here.

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