Protest of Proposed Contract Award

B-202342: Jun 10, 1981

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A firm protested the proposed award of a contract to any bidder other than itself. The protester asserted that its bid was improperly rejected by the contracting officer as late when it was delivered in a timely fashion and that its late receipt was due to Government mishandling. The protester's bid package was sent via a commerical delivery service. The building was closed on Saturday and the service was unable to deliver the bid as instructed. The package, which did not bear any external markings which identified it as a bid, was not delivered until an hour and a half after the designated time on the due date and was eventually rejected as a late bid. GAO has held that a bidder is charged with the responsibility of insuring that its bid is delivered to the proper place at the proper time. By choosing methods of delivery other than those specified in the late bids clause, a bidder assumes a high degree of risk that its bid will be rejected as late. Where delivery is made by commercial carrier rather than by mail, the rule is that the Government mishandling exception is inapplicable. The only basis for consideration of a late hand-carried bid is when the bid is delivered to the wrong place due to Government fault. The protester believed that it fell within this exception due to the alternate nature of the instructions as to the delivery location. GAO found this interpretation to be unreasonable as only one delivery location was specified for hand-carried bids. Neither Government misdirection nor mishandling could be considered the sole or paramount cause of the late receipt. Since the package containing the bid did not have any exterior identification that it contained a bid, there was no indication to alert the mail processing personnel to the fact that expedited handling was necessary. The protester raised an allegation that a late bid modification was submitted by one of the other bidders. This allegation was irrelevant because the protester's late bid would not be for consideration regardless of the disposition of the modification. The protest was denied.

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