Protest of Bid Rejection as Nonresponsive

B-201339: Mar 10, 1981

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A firm protested the determination by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that its bid was nonresponsive. The record showed that FAA issued an invitation for bids (IFB) for the furnishing and installing of fire detection devices and associated equipment at the Air Traffic Control Tower, Lambert Field, St. Louis, Missouri. FAA also issued two amendments to the IFB. The first amendment changed one specification, but it did not alter the bid opening date. The second amendment was issued to clarify that certain work mentioned in the IFB drawing was not in fact required for the contract and to extend the bid opening date. At bid opening, the lowest bid received was submitted by the protester. At that time, the protester acknowledged receipt of the first amendment to the IFB but failed to acknowledge receipt of the second amendment until 2 days later. FAA thus contended that the protester's failure to acknowledge the material amendment prior to bid opening rendered the protester's bid nonresponsive. GAO held that, since the only possible effect of the second amendment was to decrease the cost of contract performance, the Government should waive the protester's failure to acknowledge the amendment as a minor informality and make the award on the basis of the bid as submitted.