Northwest Heritage Consultants
B-299547, May 10, 2007
Northwest Heritage Consultants protests the Department of Interior, National Park Service (NPS) Pacific West Region's rejection as late of its Architect-Engineer (A-E) Qualifications Statements submitted in response to solicitations Nos. N8078070176, N8078070177 and N8078070178, issued by NPS for the acquisition of A-E services for historic preservation design services at regional offices in Oakland, Seattle, and Honolulu. Northwest argues that the agency should have accepted its submissions because the protester sent them by United States Postal Service (USPS) Express Mail, and because the protester believes the USPS carrier attempted to deliver the submissions prior to the closing time for receipt.
We deny the protest.
B-299547, Northwest Heritage Consultants, May 10, 2007
Agency properly declined to accept Architect-Engineer Qualifications Statements submitted after closing date for such submissions where there is no evidence that improper government action caused the United States Postal Service's failure to make timely delivery of the submissions to the agency.
Northwest Heritage Consultants protests the Department of Interior, National Park Service (NPS) Pacific West Region's rejection as late of its Architect-Engineer (A-E) Qualifications Statements submitted in response to solicitations Nos. N8078070176, N8078070177 and N8078070178, issued by NPS for the acquisition of A-E services for historic preservation design services at regional offices in
National Park Service, Pacific West Regional Office
ATTN: Gary C. Harris
The following information was to be placed on the outside of the sealed envelope containing each response: the solicitation number/title; the due date; and the closing time. All three solicitations provided that late responses would be handled in accordance with the provisions of Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) sect. 15.208.
By the December 22 closing time, the agency received numerous timely submissions in response to each of the three solicitations. No response was received from the protester.
Five days later, on December 27, the contracting officer (CO) received a Federal Express (FEDEX) package from Northwest that did not identify, on the face of the envelope, the solicitation number or closing time. CO's Statement at 1. On December 28, Northwest sent an email to the CO inquiring about the status of its responses to the three solicitations. The CO states that he then examined the package, opened the envelope and discovered three submissions from Northwest.
On January 10, Northwest sent an email to the contracting officer explaining that the FEDEX package was its second attempt to deliver its submissions to the agency. AR, Tab IV, Jan. 10 Email. The protester stated that an earlier package of submissions was sent by USPS Express Mail, and asserted that the USPS carrier attempted to deliver the submissions prior to the deadline, but found no one available to sign for the package. The protester included a copy of the USPS tracking record which indicated that the submissions were mailed on December 20, and stated, in its entirety, Notice Left,
By letter dated
24 hours per day, by uniformed building security personnel stationed at the main entrance and lobby area where all USPS and FEDEX package deliveries are made. Northwest filed this protest with our Office on March 13.
Northwest first argues that the agency should accept and evaluate its submissions because, in the protester's view, the USPS records show that delivery was attempted prior to the closing time, but could not be completed. Thus, the protester contends that the agency must have failed to make proper arrangements to receive submissions. The protester also argues that since its submissions were not proposals, but merely A-E Qualifications Statements--the evaluation of which are used only to qualify potential vendors for inclusion on a list for issuance of task orders at future dates--acceptance and evaluation of its submissions despite their late receipt causes no harm to other offerors.
It is the responsibility of each firm to deliver its proposal (or here A-E Qualifications Statements) to the proper place at the proper time, and late delivery generally requires rejection of the submission. Sencland CDC Enters., B-252796, B-252797,
As an initial matter, the agency denies receiving or rejecting the Northwest submission package that was the subject of the alleged delivery attempt by the USPS carrier. Instead, NPS explains that it followed its standard procedure for receipt and acceptance of proposals on
Moreover, the agency provided a declaration from the security guard who covered the post on the date and time in question, and the guard states that no notice of an attempted delivery was left by the USPS on that date, and that there were no delivery problems that day. Declaration of Security Guard,
In our view, the evidence submitted by the protester does not establish that the agency actually received the protester's submissions or that there was ever an attempt to deliver the submissions to the NPS facility before the closing time established in the solicitation. As explained above, the record here, at best, only demonstrates that the USPS carrier attempted to deliver the protester's submissions somewhere in
Alternatively, Northwest asserts that since the submissions here were only Qualifications Statements, and not proposals, no harm will result from the agency evaluating its untimely submissions. For the reasons below, we disagree.
The FedBizOpps notice specifically stated a date and time for delivery of these submissions and warned vendors that late responses would be handled in accordance with FAR sect. 15.208. We have recognized that even when the submissions at issue are not proposals, the late submission rules alleviate confusion, ensure equal treatment of all competitors, and prevent one firm from obtaining any unfair competitive advantage that might accrue where only one firm is permitted additional time to prepare its submissions for evaluation by the agency. See Zebra Techs. Int'l, LLC, B-296158,
Lastly, the protester maintains that it is a veteran-owned emerging small business and may suffer material harm if it is denied the opportunity to be considered as a potential provider of such services. While we recognize that denying the protester an opportunity to participate in these procurements may have an adverse affect on the protester, acceptance of the protester's untimely submissions is unfair to other vendors who timely submitted responses and inconsistent with protecting the integrity of the procurement system.
The protest is denied.
Gary L. Kepplinger