Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Department of Veteran Affairs
Disposition: Protest denied.
Keywords: Invitation for Bid
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: Bidders are responsible for delivering their bids to the proper place at the proper time. Where a bid is delivered by a commercial carrier, the bid is regarded as hand-carried.
Stephen Lucas Construction, LLC (Stephen) protests the award of a contract to Construction Management Engineering & Consulting, Inc. (CMEC) under invitation for bids (IFB), issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for columbarium and drainage improvements at an Oregon cemetery.
The IFB, a total service-disable veteran-owned small business set-aside, recommended that bids be submitted by overnight courier service. Bid opening was scheduled for 2 p.m. on March 3. The record showed that on March 3 at 10:51 a.m., CMEC’s bid was delivered to the address listed in the IFB prior to bid opening, and it was sent by Federal Express. Once CMEC received confirmation that its bid package had been received, it contacted the contracting officer and advised him that its bid package had arrived. Also, on March 3, prior to bid opening, CMEC had a courier deliver a bid modification. The contracting officer picked up CMEC’s bid modification, but failed to pick up CMEC’s original bid.
The contracting officer announced during bid opening that “if any bids are received by the VA before 2:00 p.m. deadline and are not present at the bid opening, those bids are considered to be within VA custody and will be considered timely.” CMEC’s bid modification was lowest in price and Stephen’s was second lowest. After bid opening, the contracting officer received CMEC’s original bid. After reviewing CMEC’s bid and verifying that it was received prior to the deadline, VA made award to CMEC.
Stephen argues that there is no proof that the VA had in its possession the CMEC bid prior to bid opening. GAO states that bidders are responsible for delivering their bids to the proper place at the proper time and where a bid is delivered by a commercial carrier; the bid is regarded as hand-carried. A late hand-carried bid may be considered for award where improper government action was the paramount cause of its late delivery and consideration of the late bid would not compromise the integrity of the competitive bid system.
GAO finds that CMEC’s original bid was timely received where the evidence shows that an agency employee signed for the original bid package at 10:51 a.m. on March 3 and CMEC acted reasonably to ensure the delivery of the bid to the contracting officer before bid opening. The VA’s actions were the paramount cause for the contracting officer not having the original bid at bid opening. The protest is denied.