Conflicting Provisions in IFB

B-196183: Jan 30, 1980

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Ralph O. White
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Kenneth E. Patton
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A company protested both the cancellation of an invitation for bids (IFB) and the subsequent resolicitation of the same requirement, alleging that it was the low eligible bidder under the provisions of the initial IFB. The record indicated that the solicitation was canceled after the agency realized that there were two conflicting provisions in the IFB concerning the acceptability of telegraphic bid modifications. Of the responsive bidders, one would have been the low bidder if one of the provisions was in effect, and another would have been the low bidder had the other provision been in effect. The agency therefore concluded that an award to either bidder would violate the express terms of the solicitation and that the only equitable solution was to cancel the solicitation and resolicit. It was held that while specification defects do not automatically mandate cancellation, the agency had a reasonable basis for believing that the ambiguity in the IFB materially affected the propriety of the bidding process and it constituted a compelling reason for the cancellation and resolicitation. Furthermore, the conflicting provisions could not be resolved by the IFB's Order of Precedence clause. Therefore, the protest was denied.