Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: General Services Administration
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Timely proposal submission; Government office closings
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: Even though federal employees were allowed a delayed arrival and unscheduled leave, a delayed arrival time or allowance of unscheduled leave does not mean that the government had not resumed normal processes for the purposes of calculating the time for submission of proposals.
As part of a request for proposals (RFP), the General Services Administration included a provision that stated that if an emergency or unanticipated event interrupted normal government processes, the time specified for receipt of proposals would be extended to the same time of day as specified in the RFP on the first work day on which normal government processes resume. The original submission deadline of September 3, 2009 was extended to February 9, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time by a GSA-issued amendment.
Due to major winter storms in the Washington D.C. area of February 5 and 6, and again on February 9 and 10, federal agencies in the Washington D.C. area were closed from Monday February 8 through Thursday February 11. On February 12, federal agencies in Washington D.C. reopened, but federal employees were allowed to arrive for work up to two hours later than normal due to the continued weather situation. On the same day, when GSA opened, the contracting officer determined that under the RFP provision stated above, the due date for receipt of proposals was extended from February 9 at 2 p.m. to February 12 at 2 p.m. CFS-INC, JV submitted its proposal on February 12 at 2:24 p.m. and it was rejected as late. CFS protested this rejection, alleging that “normal government processes” could not be said to have resumed on a day when the federal agency was operating under a 2-hour delay.
GAO denied the protest. GAO held that, even though federal employees were allowed a delayed arrival, a delayed arrival time or allowance of unscheduled leave does not mean that the government had not resumed normal processes. In fact, the Office of Personnel Management recognizes situations that allow for delayed arrival as distinct from those situations where federal agencies are closed.