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TMonro

Can you get a Protest if you don't answer questions received after RFQ closing date

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Can you get protest if you do not answer questions after closing date of Request For Quote (RFQ). For example, all questions were due by 15 Apr 2015, however, the language in RFQ also says that question received after closing date may be accepted if the CO/CS determine the questions to be pertain to the RFQ. Can I get protest if I do not reply to questions received after closing since it’s the CO/CS decision? The questions keep coming, how can I stop them without getting a protest?

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You cannot stop the questions from coming in.

However, the Government is not required to answer all questions that come in.  Answering questions will make sense in many cases, especially for pertinent questions.  But if answering questions will unreasonably delay the acquisition, and if the Government feels there is enough and robust competition to get good quotations, then you don't have to answer the questions.

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In addition to being concerned about a protest, you should also be concerned about a potential claim after award.  For example, if there is a patent ambiguity in a solicitation, contractors have a duty to inquire about the ambiguity.  This duty arises any time the ambiguity is discovered.  Further, if the government does not respond to the contractor or gives an inadequate response, there is a good chance the ambiguity will be resolved in the contractor's favor.  This is but one example of how a failure to answer questions can result in claims.

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I believe a reasonable protest argument could be made if the submitted question pertains to the RFQ and there was no communication back to the potential bidder that the question will not be answered. The RFQ seemed like it invited questions after the closing date. A bidder might have a reasonable expectation that a pertinent question would be answered, and at least an expectation that the Government would have reviewed the question for its pertinence to decide whether to answer it. which apparently it did not do. Bad faith could be argued in my view. A bidder may reasonably be still waiting for an answer or a negative communication before submitting a bid. The fact that there seems to be no end to the questions makes it sound like the RFQ has understanding challenges. In my view, the Government can stop all post closure questions by re-issuing the RFQ stating that no questions are permitted at any time because the Government has determined that the RFQ is robust. However, it does not appear to be robust to some number of bidders.      

Edited by Neil Roberts
typo

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