Monday, February 13, 2017

Protest Denied Where Contractor Failed to Follow Established Procedures

The Army Corps of Engineers (COE) issued a solicitation in 2016 for dredging services. The COE received three timely bids but after reviewing them, determined all three were unreasonably high priced compared to the Government estimate. The Government estimate was $14 million whereas the three bids were $18, $19, and $21 million. Because all three bids exceeded the Government estimate by more than 25 percent, the COE could not (or did not) make an award.

4H Construction protested COE's conclusion that all three bids were unreasonably high. Without specifying any factual matters, 4H stated that its bid would have been within 125 percent of the Government estimate if the Government estimate had been reasonable.

At this point, COE Acquisition Instructions call for an exchange of bid details between the Government and a protestor. But 4H refused to provide their cost bases. In what seems like a bit of gamesmanship, 4H stated:
My understanding of (COE Acquisition Instructions) is that the protestor must provide the details of its bid estimate in order to obtain a copy of the details of the independent government estimate ("IGE"). 4H had not requested a copy of the details of the IGE at this time, so I do not believe it is necessary or required that 4H provide you with the details of its bid estimate.
The Army COE when on to deny the protest.

4H then filed a protest with the Comptroller General arguing that the COE did not use a realistic price for diesel fuel in calculating its estimate. Until the COE denied 4H's first protest, 4H did not have the diesel fuel information. However, since 4H had earlier declined to avail itself of the opportunity presented by the COE to exchange the basis of its bid estimate for the government estimate, the Comptroller General concluded that 4H had failed to diligently pursue the information necessary to file its protest on this basis and so denied the protest.

The Comptroller General also chastised 4H for wasting its time.
Moreover, a timely exchange of information also could have prevented the expenditure of our Office's time and resources to resolve a matter that may well have been easily and expeditiously resolved by the parties without our involvement.
You can read the entire decision here.

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