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A firm filed a complaint against the award of a contract under an invitation for bids (IFB) for water well drilling equipment; the procurement was financed under an Agency for International Development (AID) grant. The complainant argued that: (1) the IFB improperly restricted competition to a particular brand name product; and (2) the procurement of the items solicited should have been divided into smaller procurements, which would have resulted in lower prices and savings which AID should want to encourage. The complainant had offered a brand other than the one required under the IFB, and it stated in its bid that it did not understand why the specification was limited to that particular brand name; the complainant also sent a letter of protest. GAO has stated that while it might not always be appropriate to establish strict time limits for filing grant complaints, they must be filed within a reasonable time so that GAO can decide an issue while it is still practicable to recommend corrective action if warranted. To be considered filed within a reasonable time, a complaint based on improprieties which are apparent on the face of a solicitation must be filed before bid opening. GAO also has stated that a protest to the agency, filed with a bid, will not be considered timely. Therefore, if the complainant's statement submitted in its bid was as a complaint, it was untimely filed, and its subsequent complaint filed with GAO approximately 3 months after bid opening was not timely. Accordingly, the complaint was dismissed.


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