[Protest of Interior Rejection of Bid]

B-213199: Jul 24, 1984

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A firm protested the rejection of its bid under a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) solicitation, contending that BIA improperly rejected the bid as nonresponsive for failure to provide an adequate bid guarantee. The protester also claimed reimbursement of bid preparation costs. A bid bond of 20 percent of the bid price was required. The protester was bonded by individual rather than corporate sureties, and it submitted an affidavit listing the assets and liabilities of the protester's general manager and owner, who were married. They listed identical assets and liabilities. BIA determined that the bid was nonresponsive because the affidavits of surety listed the sureties' interest in the principal. GAO held that: (1) while the protester's bid bond was incorrect, its adequacy was a matter of responsibility, rather than responsiveness; (2) the bid was responsive because the net worth of the individual sureties only had to equal the amount of the difference between the protester's bid and the next higher bid; and (3) the rejection of the bid constituted arbitrary and capricious action on the part of BIA, and the protester was therefore entitled to reimbursement of bid preparation costs upon submission to BIA of a substantiated claim. Accordingly, the protest and claim were sustained.