Possibility of Misusing Certified Mail To Circumvent Late Bid Procedures

PSAD-78-125: Published: Jul 27, 1978. Publicly Released: Nov 17, 1982.

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The Defense Acquisition Regulation and the Federal Procurement Regulations require that bids be submitted to procurement offices not later than the exact time set for bid opening. The regulations also provide, however, that a late bid may be considered for a contract award when it is received before the award and when it was sent by registered or certified mail at least 5 days before bid opening. These regulations assert that the only acceptable evidence to establish the date of mailing of a late bid by registered or certified mail is its postal service postmark. It has been alleged that a contract could be obtained improperly by submitting a late, low bid after bid opening through misuse of certified mail which makes it appear that the bid has been mailed before bid opening.

It would be possible for a bidder to subvert late-bid-control procedures by improperly using certified mail under current Government procurement regulations and Postal Service procedures. There have been few allegations of certified mail abuse, however. As a result of bid protests, the General Services Administration (GSA) has proposed a temporary regulation change to eliminate certified mail from late bid consideration. Representatives of 21 Federal agencies were opposed to abandoning the use of certified mail. The agencies noted that they have not encountered the problem that prompted the GSA proposal and that they have no evidence that certified mail has been abused. The agencies generally agreed that an increase in late bids would be likely because it takes longer to deliver registered mail and that requiring registered mail would increase bidder costs.

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