Recently, the GAO denied the bid protest of Bridges System Integration, LLC (“Bridge”) (decision here). This bid protest involved an RFP for a standing solicitation for the provision of professional audio/video, telemetry/tracking, recording, reproducing and signal data solutions. Bridge’s bid was rejected for not complying with the RFP. While there were multiple issues involved in this decision, this article focuses on Bridge’s challenge to the terms of the solicitation as they related to its already submitted and rejected bid.
The GAO held that “[t]o be timely, a challenge to the terms of this solicitation had to be raised prior to submitting a proposal under the terms of that solicitation.” It further held that for standing orders, which do not have a set time for submissions, “challenges to the terms of a standing FSS solicitation are untimely, with respect to the application of these terms to the evaluation of an offeror’s proposal, if the protest is filed after the protester has submitted a proposal under that solicitation.” For this, and other reasons enumerated in the decision, the bid protest was denied.
Timelines are key to bid protest cases. Failure to timely file a bid protest can forfeit your rights to even bring the protest. If you believe that the specifications for an RFP are biased or unfair, contact the experienced bid protest attorneys at Smith & Associates for a free consultation.
Last week the GAO issued a recommendation in the Matter of: Alcazar Trades, Inc.; Sparkle Warner JV, LLC. The Government issued an RFP for a fixed-price contract, with a 1-year base period and four option years, to furnish custodial services for 23 buildings and 7 guard shacks at the Denver Federal Center. The award was to be made to the bidder whose proposal was the “most advantageous to the government,” considering price and the following non-price evaluation factors: management plan (30 percent of the non-price factors), past performance (30 percent), and experience (40 percent). Alcazar Trades, Inc. (“ATI”) submitted the bid with the lowest price. The government found that ATI’s bid was unrealistic such as to “put the government at risk if the Offeror tried to perform the services with inadequate funding.” ATI then filed this bid protest.
The GAO found that as a general matter “[p]rice realism need not necessarily be considered in evaluating proposals for the award of a fixed-price contract, because these contracts place the risk of loss upon the contractor rather than the government.” The GAO further held that “[w]here offerors take a similar approach to meeting the solicitation requirements, our Office has generally not objected to a price realism analysis that focuses on a comparison of an offeror’s price to the government estimate and the prices of other offerors… Our Office has recognized, however, that a price realism evaluation must consider the unique technical approaches proposed by each offeror.” ATI argued that its staffing approach was unique and was not comparable to the other bidders, as such, it was able to offer a much lower price. The GAO agreed and concluded that the government “unreasonably evaluated the realism of ATI’s low price, failing to account for ATI’s unique staffing approach.” It then recommended that the government reevaluate the proposals and reimburse ATI its attorney’s fees and costs.
If you believe that your bid response has been improperly evaluated, contact the experienced bid protest attorneys at Smith & Associates for a free consultation.
Orange County recently requested bids for its trash collection service. FCC Infrastructure responded with the lowest bid across the board. Now, two other bidders, Waste Pro and Florida Republic, are protesting the award of the contract to FCC. While the details of the case are still forthcoming, this news article contains some details of the issue and statements from each of the bidders.
According to Waste Pro and Florida Republic, FCC was able to get the lowest bid because they did not properly bid the project. According to a Waste Pro representative, FCC’s bid would require it to do with one truck what Waste Pro would need ten trucks to do. In essence, Waste Pro is arguing that, while FCC was the lowest bidder, it was not the lowest responsible bidder.
Public authorities are required to award bids to the “lowest responsible bidder.” Wester v. Belote, 103 Fla. 976, 138 So. 721 (1931). “A responsible, or qualified, bidder is one who has the capability in all respects to fully perform the contract requirements and the integrity and reliability that will assure good faith performance.” Am. Eng’g & Dev. Corp. v. Town of Highland Beach, 20 So. 3d 1000, 1000-01 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2009) internal quotes omitted. Thus, simply submitting the lowest bid is not enough. A bidder must also be qualified to perform the work.
Therefore, a bidder who does not submit the lowest bid can still file a bid protest if the lowest bidder is not a responsible bidder. If you have been denied an award of a public contract due to the lowest bidder not being a responsible bidder, contact the experienced bid protest attorneys here at Smith & Associates for a free consultation. Be aware that bid protest cases have very strict, short deadlines, so you must act quickly to preserve your rights.