Protest of Consideration of Bid Modification

B-204445: Dec 15, 1981

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A firm protested the consideration of a bid modification submitted by a competing firm, contending that a telegraphic modification sent by the competitor which reduced its bid below that of the protester was improperly considered by the contracting officer. The original bid of the competitor was approximately twice as much as the low bid; however, as modified, the competitor's bid would displace the protester's low bid. The agency stated that, even though the modification was not received in the contracting office until after the time set for receipt of bids, it should still be considered because its late arrival was due to Government mishandling. The protester responded that the modification should not be considered since the invitation for bids and applicable regulations state that the time/date stamp on the bid wrapper is the only acceptable evidence to show timely receipt, and it clearly showed that the modification was not received until after the time set for bid opening. It further stated that the mishandling occurred while the modification was in the hands of the telegraph company and not in the hands of the Government. GAO has held that a telegraphic bid modification received in a contracting office after the time set for bid opening may be considered where Government mishandling was the paramount cause of failure of the modification to be received at the Government installation prior to bid opening. GAO held that, since consideration of the competitor's bid under the circumstances presented would not result in the type of unfair competitive advantage which the regulations are designed to prevent, the bid, as modified, may be considered. Accordingly, the protest was denied.

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