Allegation Involving Bid Error

B-197262: Mar 28, 1980

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An agency requested a decision as to whether a purchase order may be rescinded because of a mistake in bid alleged after the award was made. The purchase order was for 408,000 (plus or minus 250) data form pads. Because the low bidder's additional rate for application to any purchase above 408,000 was larger than its base rate, the contracting officer requested by telephone that the bid be verified. The base rate was verified and the additional rate was corrected to reflect a lower bid price. Written verification followed the oral verification and the award was made to the low bidder. Subsequently, the awardee alleged that an error had been made in computing the base rate, and furnished worksheets to support the error. The awardee stated its price should have been $141,030 instead of the $80,184 it bid. The agency recommended against relief because the bid was verified before the award was made and the contract price was in line with the price for the same form in 1977. Procurement regulations provide that in cases of apparent mistake, the contracting officer shall call the bidder's attention to the suspected mistake in seeking verification. In this case, the suspected mistake was the discrepancy between the awardee's bid rates, which the contracting officer pointed out in seeking verification of the bid. Thus, the contracting officer adequately discharged his duty by directing the awardee's attention to the area of the error. The acceptance of the bid after the verification by the awardee resulted in a valid and binding contract. Accordingly, there was no legal basis for rescission of the purchase order.