Contracting agency properly rejected bid as nonresponsive where the bidder introduced ambiguity regarding material terms of its bid by referencing clauses that conflicted with material terms and conditions of the solicitation.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
4Granite Inc. protested the rejection of its bid as nonresponsive, in response to an invitation for bids (IFB) for repairs to a channel along the Red Lake River near Crookston, Minnesota. 4Granite, which had the lowest bid, submitted a one-page document with the heading, “Company Information and FAR and DFAR Compliance Statements,” referencing several commercial items FAR clauses. The contracting officer found that these references created substantial doubt as to whether 4Granite was agreeing to the terms in those clauses or to the clauses that were in the solicitation, and rejected the bid as nonresponsive.
The GAO found reasonable the agency’s rejection of 4Granite’s bid as nonresponsive, pointing out that the agency was required to consider extraneous documents submitted with a bid for purposes of determining the bid’s responsiveness. The GAO agreed that the ambiguity created by 4Granite’s references to the commercial items clauses concerned material terms of 4Granite’s bids since they implicated matters as to the contractual terms of the warranty. The GAO disregarded 4Granite’s assertion that the inclusion of this document was unintentional.
Bidders must pay careful attention to the documents submitted in their bid packages. While certain forms and documents may be a standard part of every bid, bidders should always review the document prior to submission to make sure that it is updated to comply with the current solicitation and that it does not include unnecessary or conflicting references. Bidders bear the responsibility for properly preparing their bid documents in such a manner that the agency can accept the bid with full confidence that it will result in an enforceable contract, conforming to the terms of the IFB.