Cancellation of Contract Awarded to Other Than Low Bidder

B-194144: Jul 31, 1979

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A firm maintained that it was the low bidder under an invitation for bids for a quantity of briquettes, but asserted that the General Services Administration (GSA) had applied the wrong freight rates to its bid and then had improperly awarded the contract to a competitor. GSA acknowledged that the low bidder should have been awarded the contract; however, GSA urged that the protest be dismissed as untimely. Since GSA admitted that the protesting firm was the low bidder and should have been awarded the contract, GAO believed the timeliness of the protest was not a relevant issue. GSA stated that it had already accepted two out of seven carloads of briquettes and the remaining quantity had been carloaded and were ready for shipment; hence, GSA maintained that termination of the contract would not be in the best interest of the Government. GAO did not agree, but believed that there was no urgent need for delivery of the remaining quantity of briquettes. In addition, the cost to the Government to terminate the contract would not outweigh the interest of the Government in protecting the integrity of the competitive bidding system. Accordingly, it was recommended that GSA terminate the awardee's contract for the convenience of the Government and award a contract to the low bidder for the remaining quantity of briquettes. The protest was sustained.