Protest of Air Force Contract Award

B-202831: Oct 14, 1981

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A firm protested that it was not allowed to correct its bid or receive an award at its original bid price under an invitation for bids (IFB) issued by Robins Air Force Base. The record showed that Robins Air Force Base issued two IFB's for hoisting tripods. Each IFB was administered by a different contracting officer, and each contracting officer suspected an error in the bid that the protester submitted under the respective IFB. Subsequently, each contracting officer provided the protester an opportunity to verify, modify, or withdraw its bid. The protester agreed that an error existed in its bid for the first article and the 26 production units and requested correction. However, correction of the bid was denied, and award was made to the next low bidder. With regard to the alleged error in the second IFB, the protester verified its bid, and award was made to it. The protester then questioned why the prices were accepted for one IFB but not for the other. Additionally, the protester contended that: (1) the contracting officer acted improperly in not providing it an opportunity to stand by its original bid after the determination was made not to permit correction; and (2) the Air Force erred in soliciting bids for the same equipment under two different IFB's. GAO held that Federal regulations state that, if a bid is verified, the contracting officer will consider the bid as originally submitted. Thus, the contracting officer was justified in accepting the verified bid as submitted. Additionally, GAO held that the contracting officer's refusal to allow the protester to correct its original bid was proper since the protester had admitted in its request for correction that its corrected price was based upon a subsequent computation of what the price should be, and Federal regulations do not extend to permitting the bidder to include factors which it did not have in mind when its bid was originally prepared and submitted. Further, GAO held that: (1) the contracting officer has no obligation to query the bidder as to its willingness to accept an award at the original bid price where the bidder only requested correction; and (2) the contention that the Air Force erred in soliciting bids for the same equipment was untimely since it was made after bids were opened for both IFB's. Accordingly, the protest was denied in part and dismissed in part.