[Protest Against Rejection of Bids as Nonresponsive]

B-205823,B-205843,B-206469: Sep 9, 1982

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A firm protested the rejection of its low bids under three solicitations issued by the General Services Administration (GSA). The protester complained that GSA improperly rejected its bids as nonresponsive. After the bids were opened, the contracting officer discovered that three of the four sureties failed to disclose all outstanding bond obligations. Based on the discovery, the contracting officer found the protester's sureties to be unacceptable and rejected the bids as nonresponsive. GAO stated that, in determining the acceptability of an individual bid bond surety, an agency may consider the surety's failure to disclose other bond obligations since disclosure is necessary to make informed judgments concerning a surety's financial soundness. In this case, where the record indicated a continuing pattern among certain individual bid bond sureties not to disclose outstanding bond obligations, the agency had a reasonable basis to reject the bidder's sureties as unacceptable. GAO has recently held that the question of the acceptability of an individual surety is one of bidder responsibility; thus the contracting officer erred in rejecting the protester's bid as nonresponsive. Under the circumstances, however, rejection on responsibility grounds was clearly appropriate. Accordingly, the protest was denied.