Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of the Air Force
Disposition: Protest dismissed.
Protest is dismissed as untimely where it was filed more than 10 days after receipt of a preaward notice identifying the successful vendor, which triggered a telephone call to the contracting officer wherein the protester was told the successful vendor’s price; these two pieces of information provided the basis for the protester’s argument that its lower-priced quotation should have been selected for award.
General Counsel P.C. Highlight:
OETI argues that the Air Force improperly selected EOI at a higher price, where the RFQ provided that award was to be based on price. The Air Force requested that the protest be dismissed because, among other reasons, the protest was untimely filed. GAO states that Bid Protest Regulations contain strict rules for the timely submission of protests. Under these rules, a protest that is not based on alleged improprieties in a solicitation must be filed no later than 10 calendar days after the protester knew, or should have known, of the basis for protest, whichever is earlier. GAO’s timeliness rules reflect the dual requirements of giving parties a fair opportunity to present their cases and resolving protests expeditiously without unduly disrupting or delaying the procurement process. A protester’s receipt of oral information forming the basis of its protest is sufficient to start the 10-day time period running; written notification is not required.
OETI concedes that its protest was not filed within 10 days of the telephone call, which confirmed the identity of EOI and disclosed its higher price. The protester nevertheless argues that it was unfamiliar with the procedure for filing a protest, it did not receive a prompt response to inquiries that it made to a member of Congress, and it mistakenly believed that it should file its protest with the OMB, but had no success in identifying where to direct its protest within that agency. OETI argues that it promptly filed its protest once it learned of GAO’s role in deciding bid protests. GAO dismisses the protest as untimely because it was filed more than 10 days after the protester learned of the basis for its protest. Neither a protester’s unfamiliarity with GAO regulations, nor its decision to wait for a response to a congressional inquiry, provides a basis for suspending GAO’s timeliness regulations. GAO’s Bid Protest Regulations are published in the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations; protesters are charged with constructive notice of their contents. The protest is dismissed.