B-176032(2), JUN 29, 1972

B-176032(2): Jun 29, 1972

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SO LONG AS THE AUTHORITY VESTED IN THE BID OPENING OFFICER TO DETERMINE THAT THE TIME SET FOR BID OPENING HAD ARRIVED WAS EXERCISED IN A REASONABLE MANNER. THE REJECTION OF THE LATE HAND-CARRIED BID IS NOT SUBJECT TO QUESTION. THE PLACE DESIGNATED FOR RECEIPT OF BIDS WAS THE OFFICE OF THE CHIEF. YOU FURTHER STATE THAT A VA EMPLOYEE IN THE SUPPLY DIVISION OFFICE ADVISED YOU THAT IT APPEARED THAT YOUR BID WAS LATE AND STAMPED YOUR BID WITH A HAND TIME STAMP NEXT TO WHICH WAS MADE A HANDWRITTEN NOTATION THAT IT WAS RECEIVED AT 1:33 P.M. ALTHOUGH YOU WERE ALLOWED TO WITNESS THE BID OPENING. WHICH WAS CONDUCTED IN A NEARBY CONFERENCE ROOM AND WHICH WAS ALREADY IN PROGRESS AT THE TIME OF YOUR ARRIVAL.

B-176032(2), JUN 29, 1972

BID PROTEST - LATE BID DENIAL OF PROTEST BY SOMERVILLE AMBULANCE SERVICE, INC; AGAINST THE REJECTION OF THEIR BID UNDER SOLICITATION 518-73-9, ISSUED BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION HOSPITAL, BEDFORD, MASS; FOR AMBULANCE AND AUTOMOBILE SERVICE. SECTION 1-2.305-5 OF THE FEDERAL PROCUREMENT REGULATIONS STATES THAT "A LATE HAND-CARRIED BID, OR ANY OTHER LATE BID NOT SUBMITTED BY MAIL OR TELEGRAM SHALL NOT BE CONSIDERED FOR AWARD." FURTHER, SO LONG AS THE AUTHORITY VESTED IN THE BID OPENING OFFICER TO DETERMINE THAT THE TIME SET FOR BID OPENING HAD ARRIVED WAS EXERCISED IN A REASONABLE MANNER, THE REJECTION OF THE LATE HAND-CARRIED BID IS NOT SUBJECT TO QUESTION.

TO SOMERVILLE AMBULANCE SERVICE, INC.:

YOUR LETTER OF MAY 18, 1972, AND SUBSEQUENT CORRESPONDENCE, PROTESTS THE REJECTION OF YOUR BID UNDER SOLICITATION 518-73-9, ISSUED BY THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION (VA) HOSPITAL, BEDFORD, MASSACHUSETTS. AWARD OF A CONTRACT HAS BEEN WITHHELD PENDING OUR RESOLUTION OF YOUR PROTEST AND A RELATED PROTEST BY BROWN AMBULANCE SERVICE.

THE SUBJECT SOLICITATION FOR AMBULANCE AND AUTOMOBILE SERVICE FROM JULY 1, 1972, THROUGH JUNE 30, 1973, SET 1:30 P.M; MAY 12, 1972, AS THE BID OPENING TIME. THE PLACE DESIGNATED FOR RECEIPT OF BIDS WAS THE OFFICE OF THE CHIEF, SUPPLY DIVISION, AT THE BEDFORD VETERANS HOSPITAL.

YOU STATE THAT YOU PERSONALLY DELIVERED THE BID OF YOUR COMPANY, LOWER THAN THE OTHER BIDS SUBMITTED BY SOME $6,500, TO THE PLACE DESIGNATED BY THE SOLICITATION AT 1:27 P.M. - ACCORDING TO YOUR WATCH - ON THE DAY SET FOR BID OPENING. YOU FURTHER STATE THAT A VA EMPLOYEE IN THE SUPPLY DIVISION OFFICE ADVISED YOU THAT IT APPEARED THAT YOUR BID WAS LATE AND STAMPED YOUR BID WITH A HAND TIME STAMP NEXT TO WHICH WAS MADE A HANDWRITTEN NOTATION THAT IT WAS RECEIVED AT 1:33 P.M. ALTHOUGH YOU WERE ALLOWED TO WITNESS THE BID OPENING, WHICH WAS CONDUCTED IN A NEARBY CONFERENCE ROOM AND WHICH WAS ALREADY IN PROGRESS AT THE TIME OF YOUR ARRIVAL, YOUR BID WAS REJECTED AS LATE BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER. YOU CONTEND THAT YOU OBSERVED TIME VARIANCES ON SEVERAL HOSPITAL WALL CLOCKS, AND IT IS YOUR POSITION THAT, IN THE ABSENCE OF AN ELECTRICALLY OPERATED TIME STAMP, THERE IS IN SUFFICIENT PROOF THAT YOUR BID WAS, IN FACT, RECEIVED LATE.

THE REPORT SUBMITTED TO OUR OFFICE BY THE CONTRACTING OFFICER STATES THAT AT EXACTLY 1:30 P.M; EASTERN DAYLIGHT TIME, THE CONTRACTING OFFICER AND THE CHIEF, PURCHASE & CONTRACT SECTION, TOGETHER WITH FOUR CONTRACTOR REPRESENTATIVES, WALKED TO A CONFERENCE ROOM STATED TO BE ONE FLIGHT UP AND APPROXIMATELY 100 FEET FROM THE OFFICE OF THE CHIEF, PURCHASE & CONTRACT SECTION, IN ORDER TO CONDUCT THE BID OPENING. THE CONFERENCE ROOM WAS UTILIZED BECAUSE THE OFFICE OF THE CHIEF, PURCHASE & CONTRACT SECTION, WAS CONSIDERED TO BE TOO SMALL TO ACCOMMODATE THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE ATTENDING THE BID OPENING. THE TIME FOR ADJOURNING TO THE CONFERENCE ROOM WAS DETERMINED BY REFERENCE TO A WATCH AND A WALL CLOCK, THE ACCURACY OF WHICH IS REPORTEDLY CHECKED AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK WITH THE NEW ENGLAND TELEPHONE COMPANY TIME SERVICE. THE REPORT CONCLUDES THAT YOUR BID WAS NOT RECEIVED UNTIL AFTER 1:30 P.M; AND THAT IT WAS, THEREFORE, PROPERLY REJECTED AS LATE.

STANDARD FORM 33-A, WHICH WAS A PART OF THE SOLICITATION, MAKES NO PROVISION FOR THE CONSIDERATION OF LATE RECEIVED BIDS DELIVERED BY MEANS OTHER THAN MAIL OR TELEGRAM. MOREOVER, SECTION 1-2.303-5 OF THE FEDERAL PROCUREMENT REGULATIONS, ENTITLED "HAND-CARRIED BIDS," STATES THAT "A LATE HAND-CARRIED BID, OR ANY OTHER LATE BID NOT SUBMITTED BY MAIL OR TELEGRAM, SHALL NOT BE CONSIDERED FOR AWARD." ALSO, FPR 1 2.303-1 DEFINES A LATE BID AS ONE RECEIVED AFTER THE EXACT TIME SET IN THE INVITATION FOR BIDS FOR OPENING OF BIDS. FINALLY, FPR 1-2.402 STATES THAT THE BID OPENING OFFICER IS CHARGED WITH THE AUTHORITY FOR DECIDING WHEN THE TIME SET FOR BID OPENING HAS ARRIVED.

OUR OFFICE HAS HELD IN SIMILAR CASES THAT EVEN IF BID OPENING WAS COMMENCED BEFORE THE APPOINTED TIME, SO LONG AS THE AUTHORITY VESTED IN THE BID OPENING OFFICER TO DETERMINE THAT THE TIME SET FOR BID OPENING HAD ARRIVED WAS EXERCISED IN A REASONABLE MANNER, THE REJECTION OF A HAND- CARRIED BID SUBMITTED AFTER THAT TIME IS NOT SUBJECT TO QUESTION. SEE, IN THIS REGARD, B-174401, FEBRUARY 7, 1972, COPY ENCLOSED. WHILE YOU COMPLAIN THAT THE PLACE OF BID OPENING LISTED IN THE INVITATION WAS CHANGED WITHOUT ANY PRIOR NOTIFICATION TO BIDDERS, THIS FACT HAS NO BEARING ON THE REJECTION OF YOUR BID AS THE CONTRACTING OFFICER REMAINED IN THE PLACE STATED IN THE INVITATION FOR THE OPENING OF BIDS UNTIL HE HAD DETERMINED THAT THE BID OPENING TIME HAD ARRIVED. THEREFORE, HAD YOU ARRIVED AT THAT LOCATION BEFORE THE CONTRACTING OFFICER DETERMINED THAT THE BID OPENING TIME HAD ARRIVED, YOUR BID WOULD HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED AS TIMELY.

IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ABOVE CONSIDERATIONS, YOUR PROTEST IS DENIED.