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FAR 14.208:  Bidding Time After Amendment

Comptroller General - Key Excerpts

Turning to the merits of the protest, under section 14.202-1 of the FAR, contracting agencies are to allow a reasonable period of time for prospective bidders to prepare and submit their bids. A bidding time (the time between the issuance of the solicitation and the opening of bids) of at least 30 calendar days shall be provided. FAR § 14.202-1(a). Further, when specifications must be changed, agencies are required to accomplish this by amendment. FAR § 14.208(a). Before issuing an amendment, contracting officials must consider the period of time remaining until bid opening and whether there is a need to extend it. FAR § 14.208(b). Where a protester contends that the agency allowed insufficient time, we require a showing that the time allowed was inconsistent with statutory or regulatory requirements or otherwise unreasonable, or that it precluded full and open competition. See Coyol International Group, B‑408982.2, Jan. 24, 2014, 2014 CPD ¶ 40 at 2-3. What constitutes a reasonable opportunity to respond will depend on “the circumstances of the particular acquisition, such as complexity, commerciality, availability, and urgency.” FAR § 5.203(b); see Latvian Connection, LLC, supra, at 5-6 (less than 2 business days prior to revised closing date not sufficient time to respond).

Here, we conclude that Eastern Forestry was not allowed sufficient time to submit its bid. The after-hours publication of amendment No. 2 effectively left Eastern Forestry with only a very limited, unreasonably short time on the morning of July 30‑‑whether counted from the time of its discovery of amendment No. 2 on FBO at 9:15 a.m. or from earlier that morning‑‑to amend its bid as necessary and to deliver the amended bid, in hard copy and on a CD, to the base contracting office on a secure[4] military base some distance from its office. In this regard, we find unpersuasive the Army’s contention that the fact that the protester was able to email its acknowledgement of amendment No. 2 and attempted to submit its bid by email prior to the deadline, showed that Eastern Forestry had a reasonable opportunity to submit its bid after the posting of amendment No. 2 on FBO. AR at 5. As an initial matter, we note that the protester’s acknowledgment of amendment No. 2 was a two-sentence email, delivered five minutes before bid opening, and its efforts to submit its bid by email were unsuccessful, encountering problems that could not be resolved within the time available. AR, Tab 7. Neither of these communications serves to demonstrate that Eastern Forestry had a reasonable opportunity to deliver a hard copy revised bid, with CD, to the base contracting office on a secure military base in the limited time available

The Army also argues that amendment No. 2, which corrected a “typographical error” in two line items, changing the unit of measure from “Horsepower days” to “Hours,” did not require Eastern Forestry to “substantially alter[]” its bid. AR at 7. Nevertheless, the amendment clearly did require revision of Eastern Forestry’s bid, and given the requirement for a bidder to deliver a hard copy revised bid, with CD, to the base contracting office on a secure military base, the agency failed to allow a reasonable period of time for prospective bidders to prepare and submit their revised bids after the posting of the amendment on FBO. We note in this regard that Eastern Forestry’s office is in Spring Grove, Virginia, approximately 26 miles by road from Fort Lee. A commonly-used internet application advises that the travel time between Spring Grove and Fort Lee, “without traffic,” is 35 minutes. https://www.google,com/maps.  (Eastern Forestry B-411848: Nov 9, 2015)  (pdf)

Comptroller General - Listing of Decisions

For the Government For the Protester
  Eastern Forestry B-411848: Nov 9, 2015  (pdf)
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