[Protest of Department of Agriculture Contract Award]

B-205693.2: Aug 9, 1982

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A firm protested the award of a timber sales road construction contract under an invitation for bids issued by the Forest Service. The protester contended that the Forest Service incorrectly made an upward revision to its low bid and that the awardee's bid improperly received a downward revision. At bid opening, the protester was the apparent low bidder. However, the Forest Service noted that, when the bids were checked for each line item, an apparent mistake was found in the protester's unit price and a correction was made in accordance with mistake-in-bid procedures. The contracting officer considered it an obvious mistake which resulted in the correction. The protester argued that the Forest Service properly discovered the mistake but, since it was not ascertainable from the face of the bid, incorrectly revised it to a higher cost rather than to the lower cost originally intended. The protester argued that it should have been afforded the opportunity to correct its mistake to reflect its intended bid. Federal regulations state that, after bid opening, an agency may permit a bidder to correct a mistake in its bid only when the bidder presents clear and convincing evidence of both the existence of a mistake and the intended bid. In addition, when a correction would result in the displacement of another bidder, the intended bid must be ascertainable from the face of the bid. In this case, the Forest Service properly corrected what it termed to be an apparent mistake on the face of the bid. Since the protester alleged that the mistake was not apparent from the bid, it could not displace the awardee. Therefore, there was no basis to disturb the Forest Service's determination. Furthermore, GAO held that the Forest Service's revision of the awardee's bid was proper. Accordingly, the protest was denied.

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