Submitting an RFP by email right before the deadline doesn’t guarantee that it is considered a valid proposal, according to the Government Accounting Office.
Western Star Hospital Authority submitted an RFP for emergency medical services with the U.S. Army. The RFP specifically stated that the proposal and all associated material had to be received by the contractor’s email by 4 p.m. on January 30, 2017. Western’s emails were time stamped at 2:43 p.m., 2:57 p.m., 3:01 p.m. and 3:06 p.m.; however, the Army did not register the email as received until after the deadline. The Army rejected the proposal because it was past the RFP deadline.
Western appealed the decision. The company argued that it had followed the guidelines of the proposal, and that the proposal should not be rejected for reasons that were beyond its control.
For its case, the Army said the emails were “delayed by the protester’s servers” and it was not responsible for the proposal arriving past the RFP deadline. Western argued that the Army’s servers were the reason for the delayed delivery.
The GAO chose not to address which party was responsible for the delay. The GAO said the proposal was late – no matter the reason. The GAO wrote that it has “repeatedly found that it is an offeror’s responsibility to ensure that an electronically submitted proposal is received by–not just submitted to–the appropriate agency email address prior to the time set for closing.”
This, however, is an unresolved problem within the federal government system. Court of Federal Claims takes a different position on when a document is under the government’s control. The GAO chose not to address this dispute in the Western case.
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