The Government Accountability Office has ruled that a submission for a federal contract is only considered on time when it reaches the email inbox of the person reviewing the contract submissions and not when it reaches a government-controlled server.
Peers Health submitted a bid at 11:59 a.m., one minute before the deadline for a Navy RFQ to produce an occupational health disability and treatment guidelines for the U.S. Navy. A government server registered the email at 11:59, but the point of contact for the submission did not receive the email until 3:49 p.m. The government ruled that the submission was not submitted in a timely manner, but it gave no explanation as to why the email was delayed.
Peers appealed the decision, saying that a government-controlled server had received the email before the deadline. The appeal argued the submission 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 argued that contract submissions must be in the received by the contact, and electronic submissions are not allowed an exemption on what is classified as being received. They applied the ruling of previous case with Sea Box, Inc. in the Peers decision.
But the issue is far from resolved. The Court of Federal Claims has ruled that the “government control” exception does apply to email communications. The court ruled for Sea Box in its case and presumably would do the same in the Peers case if it sought to appeal.
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