[Protest of Bid Rejection]

B-208683: Aug 31, 1982

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A firm protested the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's rejection of its late bid on the grounds that it should not be penalized for delays caused by the U.S. Postal Service. According to the protester, its bid was sent by express mail with both written and oral guarantees that it would be hand-carried to the designated bid room. The contracting officer advised the protester that its bid was received after bid opening. The solicitation contained a standard clause stating that late bids would not be considered unless they had been sent by registered or certified mail not later than the fifth calendar day before opening. The protester argued that express mail, like registered and certified mail, provides a permanent record of the time a bid is received by the Postal Service, and that a bidder has no control over delays after that time. Consideration of a late bid sent by express mail, rather than in accord with the exact provisions of the solicitation, would not be proper. In addition, Federal regulations permit consideration of late bids sent by mail if it is determined that the late receipt was due solely to mishandling by the Government after receipt at the Government installation. Receipt by the Postal Service is not the equivalent of registered or certified mail. The protester also mailed its bid only 1 day before bid opening, and GAO held that the bid was properly rejected. Accordingly, the protest was denied.