Late is Late is Late

The relevant Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) provision gives contractors very little leeway in having a late bid submission considered.  Either they get their offers or quotes in on time to the place specified in the solicitation or their submissions will be late and will not be considered unless the lateness is caused by erroneous government action.  Vizocom, B-418246.2, Feb. 14, 2020 is an unfortunate tale of another offeror whose own actions caused lateness, and had its protest denied.

Vizocom responded to an Army Contracting Command in Detroit solicitation for heavy duty vehicles with offers due at 12 noon.  The solicitation specified one location to which proposals were to be addressed (“Bid Room Bldg 231”) and another location to which they were to be hand-carried (“Mail Facility Bldg 255”) . The solicitation explained the specific procedure for obtaining entry to the installation and warned offerors to plan sufficient time to clear Detroit security and ensure proposals reaced the intended destination.

Vizocom had its proposal delivered by courier, and he arrived at Building 231 between 11:45 and 11:55 am. The agency refused to accept the proposal, and personnel were unable to direct the courier to the correct submission place.  Ultimately, the proposal was received in Building 255 at 12:30 pm (i.e., late).

FAR 52.212-2 was included in the solicitation, and it stated:

(f) Late submissions, modifications and withdrawal of offers.

(2)(i) Any offer, modification, revision or withdrawal of an offer at the government office designated in the solicitation after the exact time specified for receipt of offers is “late” and will not be considered unless it is received before award is made, the Contracting Officer determines that accepting the late offer would not unduly delay the acquisition and []there is acceptable evidence to establish that it was received at the Government installation designated for receipt of offers and was under the Government’s control prior to the time set for receipt of offers.

The GAO has held that any improper government action that can be considered the paramount cause of late delivery will cause the government to consider the offer, and Vizocom stated that this was the situation and its offer should be considered.

GAO concluded that it was not improper government action that caused the lateness, but rather Vizocom’s own fault.  Vizocom decided to dispatch the courier to the Army less than 30 minutes before proposals were due, which resulted in the courier’s arrival with only 5 minutes left before the due time.  Vizocom failed to obtain advance approval for entry to the installation and failed to allocate sufficient time for the courier to clear security.  GAO concluded that Vizocom neither delivered its proposal to the location designated for receipt of proposals, nor was its proposal under government control prior to the deadline.  GAO denied the protest.

Takeaway.  Always give the courier the correct delivery address, allow the courier who is hand delivering an offeror to have sufficient time to clear all government procedures (such as security), and to have some extra time if the courier isn’t familiar with the location.  Otherwise you may suffer the same fate as Vizocom.

For other helpful suggestions on government contracting, visit:
Richard D. Lieberman’s FAR Consulting & Training at https://www.richarddlieberman.com/, and Mistakes in Government Contracting at https://richarddlieberman.wixsite.com/mistakes.

 

 

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