Protest Against Bid Offering Larger Quantity Than Specified

B-196712: Mar 12, 1980

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A firm protested the proposed award of a contract to supply 6,388 sq. yds. of paper to the Department of Defense. The protester maintained that the proposed awardee's bid was nonresponsive because the firm bid 6,450 sq. yds. instead of the 6,388 sq. yds. indicated in the solicitation. It also maintained that if the contract were awarded for 6,450 sq. yds. of material, that firm could ship up to 5 percent additional material pursuant to the terms of the variation in quantity clause, and thereby exceed the stated requirement by 385 sq. yds. When the bids were opened, the proposed awardee's bid offered the lowest price, but the bid was initially determined to be nonresponsive because it had bid on the larger quantity rather than the amount specified in the invitation for bids (IFB). The contract was awarded to the protester, and the proposed awardee was advised that its bid had been rejected because it had altered the solicitation quantity. Subsequently, the proposed awardee requested reconsideration of its bid, and the contracting officer reversed his position. Nothing in the proposed awardee's bid precluded the agency from awarding it a contract for the exact quantity specified in the IFB. Even though this bid was for a greater quantity, it was still less in price than the protester's bid. Under these circumstances the agency believed that none of the other bidders would be prejudiced by the award. GAO agreed. The test for determining the responsiveness of a bid is whether the bidder has unequivocally offered to provide the requested items in total conformance with the terms and specifications of the IFB. A bid which takes no exception to the material requirements of the IFB is responsive. In this case, the solicitation provided that the Government could accept any item or group of items of any offer, unless the offeror qualified his offer by specific limitations. Since the proposed awardee did not qualify its bid in any manner, the Government was free to award a contract for the exact quantity specified in the IFB, rather than the amount offered. It is the view of GAO that a bid should not be rejected as nonresponsive merely because it offers more than is required, so long as the Government is free to make an award which is consistent with its needs at a price below other bids received. Therefore, the protest was denied.