Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Navy
Disposition: Protest denied.
Protest arguing that agency improperly permitted correction of low bidder’s mistake of omitting a single digit from the unit price for one line item is denied because the correct amount was shown in the extended price for that line, the extended prices summed to the bid total, and because the handwritten copy of the bid also reflected the corrected price.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
Cashman argues that the awardee’s bid was contradictory, that the bid could not be corrected as a clerical mistake, and therefore the awardee’s bid should have been rejected. GAO states that the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) recognizes two principal situations in which bid errors may be corrected before award. First, a clerical mistake that is apparent on the face of a bid may be corrected by the contracting officer prior to award, if the contracting officer is able to ascertain the intended bid without the benefit of advice from the bidder. Such a correction is allowable if the discrepancy admits to only one reasonable interpretation ascertainable from the face of the bid, or from reference to the government estimate, the range of other bids, or the contracting officer’s logic and experience. Second, an agency also may allow a bidder to correct a mistake in its bid after bid opening. However, in order to protect the integrity of the procurement process, a bidder’s request for upward correction of a bid after bid opening but before award may be granted only where the request is supported by clear and convincing evidence of both the existence of a mistake and the bid actually intended, and only where the correction would not result in displacing one or more lower bids. Where neither situation is present, the bid may not be corrected.
The Navy correctly concluded that the awardee had mistakenly omitted the digit “1” from its mobilization unit price on the “original” of its bid, while correctly reflecting the intended amount in the extended price for that line, and in the bid total, and in the correctly-completed “copy” of the bid. GAO has permitted correction where bidders have mistakenly omitted a digit (or inserted an extra digit) from a price, but have correctly reflected the intended amount elsewhere on the bid. The considerable evidence supporting the Navy’s conclusion that the awardee made a clerical mistake, and that the intended bid was readily discernable, persuasively overcomes Cashman’s claim that the awardee bid was so contradictory that the error could not be resolved, and had to be rejected. The protest is denied.