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C2G Ltd. Company, B-411131, May 12, 2015
Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Defense Logistics Agency
Disposition: Protest denied
Keywords: Timeliness of Bid; Reverse Auction
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: In the case of electronic submissions, it is the responsibility of the offeror to ensure that a bid is transmitted in sufficient time to allow for reasonable lag times in processing over the internet such that the bid is received in advance of the deadline for receipt of proposals.
C2G Ltd. Company (C2G) protested the non-acceptance of its revised bid submitted during a RFP.
The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) issued a RFP, set aside for small businesses, for a time-and-materials contract for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance services on government-owned equipment located at DLA Distribution Red River, Texas. The award was to be made on a lowest-priced, technically-acceptable (LPTA) basis. The RFP incorporated the DLA directive for reverse auctions which defined the obligations of the agency and offerors.
One day prior to the auction, DLA invited offerors to participate in a “mock” web-based reverse auction run by Procurex, Inc. (“Procurex”), a third party reverse auction system provider. C2G and a second offeror participated in the mock reverse auction.
On February 6, 2015, at 9:00 am EST, DLA conducted the reverse auction using Procurex as its system provider. The bidding was scheduled to end at 9:30 am EST. The auction included an automatic extension provision which would trigger a three minute extension if a bid was successfully placed within the last minute of the auction. The auction required the offeror to complete three steps in order to successfully place a bid: (1) enter a bid at least $1,000 less than the current lead bid; (2) successfully preview and verify its bid after being prompted by the system; and (3) successfully click on the “place bid” prompt which would trigger a “Successful Bid Placed” acknowledgment. Prior to C2G’s last bid, the offerors took between five and fifteen seconds to successfully place their bids after previewing their bids.
C2G and the other offeror who participated in the mock auction placed bids during the auction. At 9:04:34 am EST, C2G successfully placed a bid and became the “lead” bidder. At 9:28:55 am EST, the other offeror submitted a bid and became the “lead” bidder. Because it was more than one minute before the end of the auction, the automatic extension was not triggered. C2G successfully input a revised bid and successfully previewed and verified its bid at 9:29:58 am EST. C2G contends that it then clicked on the place bid button one second before the end of the auction. DLA contends that the revised bid was not received as evidenced by the system’s generation of an error message indicating that the bid failed and that the auction had ended. C2G argued that the system malfunctioned when it did not accept the revised proposal bid. DLA contends that the bid was not timely received and that the system did not malfunction.
According to the GAO, it is the responsibility of the offeror to ensure that its proposal is timely delivered by transmitting it in advance of the deadline for receipt of proposals. Proposals received after the exact time specified are late and generally not considered for an award. Further, unless it is shown to be unreasonable, the contracting officer’s declaration that the procurement is closed is determinative.
The GAO concluded that C2G failed to prove that either its revised bid was timely submitted and received or that the system malfunctioned. The GAO finds that C2G did not complete the second step of the process until two seconds before the end of the auction. According to the GAO, even assuming that within the remaining two seconds the system generated the prompt for C2G to place its bid, there is no evidence that the revised bid was timely received by DLA.
Procurex represented that the revised bid was not received prior to the closing time and acknowledged that there is a lag time of between a few seconds to fifteen seconds between the time when the bidder clicks the “place bid” and the system processes the bid. Given that this lag time is consistent with common knowledge and experience with the internet, the GAO concludes that there is no basis to challenge the reasonableness of the DLA’s determination that C2G’s proposal was not timely received. C2G argued that DLA was obligated to disclose the potential lag time. The GAO concluded that this was not necessary given that delays in processing are common knowledge and because an agency is not obligated to inform offerors of all potential risks in the bidding process. Rather, the onus is on the offeror to ensure that proposals are timely received. Further, as C2G had already participated in the mock auction where lag times were observed, any issues or concerns could have been addressed prior to the actual reverse auction.
C2G’s protest was denied.
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