B-155267, OCT. 20, 1964

B-155267: Oct 20, 1964

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QUESTIONING WHETHER BIDS SUBMITTED UNDER FORMAL ADVERTISING PROCEDURES ARE REQUIRED TO BE AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC INSPECTION AFTER BID OPENING. UNDER 10 U.S.C. 2305 BIDS ARE REQUIRED TO BE OPENED PUBLICLY AT THE TIME AND PLACE STATED IN THE ADVERTISEMENT. IN OUR OPINION FAILURE OF A GOVERNMENT OFFICER TO ALLOW THE PUBLIC TO PERSONALLY VIEW THE VARIOUS OFFERS IS CONTRARY TO THE CONCEPT OF PUBLIC OPENING AND MAY. THAT IS NOT TO SUGGEST. IT IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT THE PUBLIC HAS NO ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO EXAMINE THE CONTENTS OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE FILE IN CONNECTION WITH A PROCUREMENT. WHEN SEVERAL COPIES OF BIDS ARE AVAILABLE. IT IS SUGGESTED THAT A TIMELY OBJECTION BE MADE TO THE OFFICIALS IN CHARGE AT THE PROCUREMENT ACTIVITY.

B-155267, OCT. 20, 1964

TO TELECTRO-MEK, INCORPORATED:

WE REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 22, 1964, QUESTIONING WHETHER BIDS SUBMITTED UNDER FORMAL ADVERTISING PROCEDURES ARE REQUIRED TO BE AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC INSPECTION AFTER BID OPENING.

UNDER 10 U.S.C. 2305 BIDS ARE REQUIRED TO BE OPENED PUBLICLY AT THE TIME AND PLACE STATED IN THE ADVERTISEMENT. IN OUR OPINION FAILURE OF A GOVERNMENT OFFICER TO ALLOW THE PUBLIC TO PERSONALLY VIEW THE VARIOUS OFFERS IS CONTRARY TO THE CONCEPT OF PUBLIC OPENING AND MAY, IN SOME INSTANCES, TEND TO UNDERMINE THE IMPARTIALITY WHICH SHOULD PREVAIL IN GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT. THAT IS NOT TO SUGGEST, HOWEVER, THAT IN ALL CASES THE PUBLIC HAS AN ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO SCRUTINIZE EITHER DETAILED DESCRIPTIVE LITERATURE OR OTHER BID INFORMATION OF A CONFIDENTIAL NATURE. 37 COMP. GEN. 640. FOR EXAMPLE, IT IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT THE PUBLIC HAS NO ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO EXAMINE THE CONTENTS OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE FILE IN CONNECTION WITH A PROCUREMENT. B-135326, JULY 24, 1958. ALTHOUGH SECTION 2-402.1 (C) OF THE ARMED SERVICES PROCUREMENT REGULATION SUGGESTS THAT INTERESTED PERSONS NEED NOT BE PERMITTED TO EXAMINE BIDS IF IT INTERFERES UNDULY WITH THE CONDUCT OF GOVERNMENT BUSINESS, WHEN SEVERAL COPIES OF BIDS ARE AVAILABLE, INSPECTION BY THOSE WITH A LEGITIMATE INTEREST SHOULD NOT BE FRUSTRATED UNDER THE GUISE THAT IT INTERFERES WITH GOVERNMENT BUSINESS. IN OTHER WORDS PROHIBITING INSPECTION BY PROSPECTIVE BIDDERS OF BIDS SUBMITTED UNDER FORMAL ADVERTISING SHOULD, IN OUR OPINION, BE SANCTIONED ONLY IN EXTRAORDINARY SITUATIONS. SHOULD YOU EXPERIENCE A SIMILAR SITUATION IN THE FUTURE, IT IS SUGGESTED THAT A TIMELY OBJECTION BE MADE TO THE OFFICIALS IN CHARGE AT THE PROCUREMENT ACTIVITY.

CONTRARY TO INFORMATION RECEIVED FROM OTHER SOURCES, COPIES OF BIDS ARE NOT FORWARDED TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE.