Link: GAO Decision
Protestor: CHE Consulting, Inc.
Agency: Department of Commerce
Disposition: Protest Denied.
Protest is denied where the record shows that contracting agency reasonably determined that protester’s quotation was unacceptable due to an ambiguity relating to the period of performance.
General Counsel PC Highlight:
CHE Consulting, Inc. protested the rejection of its quote under an RFQ for computer maintenance services. While CHE submitted the lowest quote, the agency rejected its quote based on the agency’s conclusion that the quote appeared ambiguous with regard to the solicitation’s period of performance. The RFQ required vendors to provide the services from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013. Although CHE indicated these same dates as its period of performance, it also provided for a “thorough comprehensive on site systems platform audit prior to [its] contractual responsibility beginning.” Elsewhere, its quote included the notation: “Contract Start Date: To Be Determined (TBD).”
The GAO found that the agency had reasonably concluded that CHE’s quote was ambiguous, determining that the quote conditioned CHE’s contractual responsibility on completion of the parts audit. It noted that the record provided no basis to understand how long CHE’s proposed parts audit would take and therefore whether it could be completed in time between when its quote was submitted and the RFQ’s contemplated start date for performance. The GAO also found that CHE had introduced additional uncertainty regarding whether it intended to perform in accordance with the RFQ by its inclusion of the “to be determined” language with regards to its start date.
Offerors must ensure that they clearly and unambiguously respond to the requirements of the RFQ. Failure to provide a quote for all aspects of the RFQ or the inclusion of ambiguous or unclear terms will result in the rejection of a quotation. Agencies have no obligation to request clarification from vendors.