Monday, November 6, 2017

Failure to Submit "Responsive" Offer Leads to Lost Opportunity

Offerors must avail themselves of every reasonable opportunity to obtain solicitation documents. Otherwise, they risk being eliminated from consideration.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an RFQ (Request for Quotation) to provide armed and unarmed detention officer services in California. Nu-Way security and Investigative Services (Nu-Way) was one of the bidders. DHS issued four solicitation amendments. Three of the four extended the deadline for proposal submissions. Amendment No. 2 made several changes including three modifications to the pricing spreadsheet including a transition period line item, a project manager for San Diego, and increased mileage reimbursement rates. All of these changes were summarized on page one of the amendment.

Nu-Way did not use the revised spreadsheet as its proposal submission. DHS noted that the proposal lacked a line item for the San Diego project manager and failed to update the mileage reimbursement quantities. The contracting officer then notified Nu-Way that its quotation had been found non-responsive and would not be evaluated for award.

Nu-Way protested to the GAO alleging that the revised pricing spreadsheet was not available for download. DHS responded that the modification description clearly stated changes were made to the pricing spreadsheet and other offerors were able to download and submit the revised pricing spreadsheet. Nu-Way argued that the front page of Amendment 2 did not explicitly state that there were changes made to the pricing spreadsheet such that a new pricing spreadsheet was required. Therefore, the requirement was ambiguous.

GAO did not sustain the appeal. GAO found that Amendment 2 specifically stated that changes were made to the pricing spreadsheet. Regardless of whether Nu-Way could download or received the revised pricing spreadsheet, the company was on notice that DHS had revised the spreadsheet. As a result, Nu-Way should have availed itself of every reasonable opportunity to obtain the spreadsheet.

DHS was correct (acted reasonably) in rejecting Nu-Way's proposal because it failed to acknowledge a material amendment.

Read the entire decision here.

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