[Protest of Manner of Bid Correction by Forest Service]

B-208469: Dec 28, 1982

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A firm protested the manner in which the Forest Service corrected an apparent mistake in its bid which had been submitted in response to an invitation for bids (IFB). When evaluating the bids, the Forest Service contracting officer noticed that the protester's unit price and extended price were not harmonious. Therefore, the contracting officer applied an IFB provision which stated that, in case of a discrepancy between a unit price and an extended price, the unit price will be presumed to be correct; this resulted in a higher evaluated bid. The protester maintained that its extended price was correct and that the mistake was made in the unit price. In deciding questions involving bid corrections which would result in the displacement of a low evaluated bidder, GAO generally examines the degree to which the asserted correct bid is the only reasonable interpretation ascertainable substantially from the bid itself of the apparent ambiguity or claimed mistake. GAO found that the protester's unit price in one line item was clearly erroneous because the unit price was out-of-line with both the Government estimate and the prices offered by the other bidders. Thus, the contracting officer should have relied on the protester's extended price, which was the only reasonable alternative, in correcting the bid rather than the clearly erroneous unit price. Accordingly, the protest was sustained; however, since the contract had already been completed, GAO brought the matter to the attention of the Secretary of Agriculture.

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