Untimely Protest of Navy Contract Award

B-198811: Oct 10, 1980

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A firm protested the award of a Navy contract for engineering services. The protester alleged that the contract awarded to the awardee differed materially from the requirements set forth in the solicitation, and that the evaluation of proposals was not made in accordance with the evaluation criteria enumerated in the request for proposals. In its original protest letter to GAO, the protester stated that it did not discover the bases for its protest until it obtained a copy of the awardee's contract from the Navy, pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed with the Navy. The protester then lodged its protest with the Navy. The firm received a reply to its protest stating that the contract, as written, did not reflect the Navy's intentions, and that the contract would be modified so as to conform with the requirements of the request for proposals. GAO has held that a protester's failure to diligently pursue its protest by seeking within a reasonable time the information which reveals the basis for protest requires rejection of the protest as untimely. In this case, the protester did not make its initial FOIA request until more than 3 weeks after first being told of the award to the awardee. In addition, after being informed that its FOIA request was deficient, the protester waited more than 4 weeks to perfect it. Even though the actual bases for protest were revealed to the protester in the Navy's response to the FOIA request, the protester, by taking a dilatory and piecemeal approach, was responsible for more than 8 weeks of delay in obtaining the information which provided the bases for protest. Since the protester did not diligently pursue this matter by requesting a debriefing or perfecting its FOIA request within a reasonable amount of time, the protest was found to be untimely.