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FAR 14.407:  Mistakes in bids

Comptroller General - Key Excerpts

Ultimate Concrete challenges the Army’s award to Fortis, arguing that the agency could not accept either its reallocated bid or its originally submitted bid. The protester first argues that the agency improperly allowed the awardee to reallocate its bid because Fortis failed to demonstrate both the existence of a mistake and its intended bid by clear and convincing evidence. Ultimate Concrete also argues that award based on Fortis’ originally submitted bid would have been improper because the bid was so far out of line with the other bids received, would be prejudicial to the other bidders, and was nonresponsive because it was materially unbalanced.

As set forth below, we find that the agency improperly allowed Fortis to reallocate its bid because the awardee did not present clear and convincing evidence of what its intended bid would have been, but for the mistake. (Sentences deleted)

Bid Revision

Ultimate Concrete first challenges the Army’s decision to allow Fortis to reallocate its bid after bid submission. The protester first contends that there was no clear and convincing evidence of a mistake warranting correction, as the awardee allocated its bid exactly as it intended to do based on the exercise of its own business judgment. See Protester’s Comments (Nov. 23, 2015) at 39, 48-50. Moreover, Ultimate Concrete argues that reallocation was improper because Fortis failed to submit clear and convincing evidence of what its intended bid would have been, but for the alleged mistake. See id. at 50-59. The Army responds that Fortis submitted clear and convincing evidence of a mistake based on a misinterpretation of the IFB’s work allocation, not a judgmental error, and of the awardee’s intended bid.

In general, agencies may permit correction of bids, but only those that are, as submitted, responsive to the solicitation; bids may not be corrected to make them responsive. FAR § 14.407-3. Because a materially unbalanced bid is considered nonresponsive, FAR clause 52.214-19(d), we generally will not consider whether an alleged mistake is correctable if the bid, as submitted, is unbalanced. See McKnight Constr. Co., B‑257782, Nov. 7, 1994, 94-2 CPD ¶ 177 at 3-4. However, we have recognized an exception for situations, as this one, where the alleged mistake involves only the allocation among line item prices and has no bearing on the ranking of bids for purposes of award. Id. at 4; Satellite Servs., Inc., B-224412, Nov. 5, 1986, 86‑2 CPD ¶ 521 at 2.

In order to warrant reallocation, a bidder must submit clear and convincing evidence of both the existence of a mistake and the bid actually intended, but for the mistake. FAR § 14.407‑3(a); McKnight Constr. Co., supra. The requirement for clear and convincing evidence reflects the need to protect the integrity of the sealed bid procurement process, where, except for narrowly defined circumstances, award should be made on the basis of the bids as submitted. UnicoConstr. Co., Inc., B‑258862, Jan. 24, 1995, 95-1 CPD ¶ 42 at 3. Whether, in fact, the evidence meets the clear and convincing standard is a question of fact, and we will not question an agency’s decision based on this evidence unless it lacks a reasonable basis. M.A. Mortenson Co., B‑254152, Nov. 19, 1993, 93-2 CPD ¶ 296.

Here, as discussed above, correction of the mistake did not alter Fortis’ overall price or the ranking of bids; it simply changed the allocation of line item prices within that total. Accordingly, bid correction could be permissible in this case, but only if there were clear and convincing evidence of both the existence of a mistake and the intended allocation of prices. See McKnight Constr. Co., supra. Here, while it is arguable that there was the existence of a mistake subject to correction, we find that there was not clear and convincing evidence regarding what Fortis’ intended bid would have been, but for the mistake.

First, there is some question as to whether the alleged mistake at issue resulted from a genuine mistake, as opposed to an error in judgement or understanding on the part of Fortis. The FAR permits correction of a mistake only where it can be demonstrated that the bidder intended a bid other than the one submitted--that is, where the mistake is attributable to something other than the bidder’s exercise of its business judgment. Odyssey Int’l, Inc., B-296855.2, Nov. 16, 2005, 2006 CPD ¶ 49 at 8. Similarly, we have held that the kinds of mistakes that may be corrected under FAR § 14.407-3 do not include mistaken or erroneous interpretations of the solicitation specifications. Aquila Fitness Consulting Sys., Ltd., B-286488, Jan. 17, 2001, 2001 CPD ¶ 4 at 3; Astro Quality Servs., Inc., B-280676, Nov. 5, 1998, 98‑2 CPD ¶ 107 at 3.

Fortis alleged in its post-award correspondence with the Army that it had originally prepared its bid for the project on a total price basis, without separating the prices into the constituent contract line items. AR, Tab 17, Letter from Fortis (Sept. 23, 2015), at 1. The awardee submitted that, after preparing its total project price, it manually divided the costs among contract line items and mistakenly included certain costs in the optional access road line item (CLIN 0007) that were properly attributable to the base and optional fence replacement line items (CLINs 0001 and 0004). Id. Fortis also represented that it misread the requirements for the base and optional fencing line items to only include fencing, while all road, retaining wall, and other construction was to be covered under the optional access road line item. AR, Tab 15B, Second Revised Bid Support Spreadsheet – Mistake CLINs Worksheet (Sept. 16, 2015). It is not clear, however, how the protester reached this interpretation, as it is inconsistent with the terms of the IFB, which make clear that both of the fence replacement line items were to include construction of “a patrol road, retaining wall, culverts, and vehicle and drainage gates.” IFB, amend. No. 0002, at 2; IFB 4.

On the other hand, this is not a case where the alleged mistake involved the bidder failing to include within its bid required work to be performed based on an erroneous interpretation of the solicitation’s requirements. See, e.g., Aquila Fitness Consulting Sys., Ltd., supra; Astro Quality Servs., Inc., supra. Here, Fortis included all of the equipment, materials, and labor necessary to perform the IFB’s road, retaining wall, and other associated construction requirements, but placed the associated prices for them under the wrong contract line item. In this regard, this case is closer to the facts of Wynn Construction Co., where we found that a bidder had established clear and convincing evidence of a mistake where it erroneously placed two pieces of equipment under the wrong contract line item, and thus bid correction was found to have been proper. Wynn Constr. Co., supra.

In any event, regardless of whether Fortis’ “mistake” was subject to correction, we find that the Army erred in allowing Fortis to reallocate its bid because there was insufficient evidence to satisfy the high burden for clear and convincing evidence of the intended allocation of line item prices. As an initial matter, the record is devoid of any contemporaneous supporting documentation from Fortis establishing what its “intended” bid would have been, but for the mistake. Furthermore, the contemporaneous record is devoid of any declarations, affidavits, or detailed narratives explaining the basis for the reallocated contract line prices. Rather, the only contemporaneous documentation included in the agency report consists of the numerous exchanges between the agency and awardee in response to the agency’s post-bid inquiries. These documents, and the bulk of the figures and supporting clarifications, all appear to have been prepared post-bid, as they include new Microsoft Excel worksheets (e.g., a “Mistake CLINs” worksheet) and changing figures and clarifying notes. Moreover, we note that it took at least 11 iterations of the supporting documentation submitted over the course of approximately two weeks to substantiate the awardee’s “intended” bid.

More significantly, the documentation submitted by Fortis fails to provide any meaningful basis for determining what the awardee’s “intended” bid was, but for the mistake, at the time the original bid was submitted. Our Office has found that the clear and convincing evidence standard for correction of a bid mistake is satisfied where the bid or supporting workpapers establish that the bidder, for example, merely misplaced a decimal point, erred in copying a number, or otherwise made a clerical error. See, e.g., Wynn Constr. Co., supra, at 2 (finding sufficient evidence where supporting worksheets established fixed-prices for two pieces of equipment erroneously put into a wrong CLIN and the associated bond, profit, and overhead percentages); Satellite Servs., Inc., supra, at 3-4 (same, where the bidder’s contemporaneous workpapers, the solicitation’s work allocation, and the other bids demonstrated that the bidder erroneously assigned 20 percent, as opposed to 2 percent, of the total price to a CLIN). Here, in contrast, Fortis’ proposed reallocations are largely unexplained and lack support. Although the record contains numerous unexplained reallocations, we address only a few representative examples here.

In several instances, all of the costs allocated to the optional access road line item (CLIN 0007) were transferred to the base fence replacement line item (CLIN 0001). Such costs included the entirety of proposed costs for grading, excavation and backfill, soil cement, rip rap with fabric, engineered backfill, concrete for retaining walls, and soil treatment. AR, Tab 15N, Eleventh Revised Bid Support Spreadsheet – Master Bid Worksheet (Sept. 24, 2015). The supporting documentation, however, is devoid of any explanation for why the reallocated costs were not proportionally allocated between the base fence requirement (CLIN 0001) and the optional fence requirement (CLIN 0004). As set forth above, the two CLINs cover two stretches of fence that are to be removed and replaced, and include the same requirements. Compare IFB, amend. No. 0004, at 2 with IFB at 4. For example, both CLINs 0001 and 004 will require the construction of retaining walls. IFB, amend. No. 0004, at 2; IFB at 4; id., Appendix No. 1, Construction Drawings, at C-3.01-C.3.16 (denoting for each section of fencing to be installed under both CLINs the location and requirements for “fence foundation or retaining wall”). Per the revised “intended” bid, however, all of the associated costs for the retaining walls (e.g., concrete for retaining walls) have been moved to the base fence replacement line item (CLIN 0001), with no associated costs allocated to the optional fence replacement line item (CLIN 0004). AR, Tab 15N, Eleventh Revised Bid Support Spreadsheet – Master Bid Worksheet (Sept. 24, 2015). The contemporaneous record fails to explain why all of these and other costs were moved to the base CLIN, only.

In other instances, there is no supporting evidence in the record explaining how other costs were subsequently reallocated between the fence replacement line items (CLINs 0001 and 0004) and the optional road access line item (CLIN 0007). For some items, such as trucks and equipment and manpower, 100% of the prices reallocated from CLIN 0007 were transferred to CLIN 0001 only. Id. In other cases, such as box culverts and aggregate 3/4” rock, varying percentages of the prices were redistributed between CLINs 0001 and 0004. Id. In other instances, such as grease for equipment and miscellaneous materials, prices were redistributed equally to CLINs 0001 and 0004. Id. The record, again, is devoid of any meaningful support for the disparate proposed reallocations.

On this record, we find that the Army improperly allowed Fortis to reallocate its bid because, even assuming that it had established clear and convincing evidence of a mistake subject to correction, the awardee failed to provide clear and convincing evidence of what its intended bid was, but for the mistake.  (Ultimate Concrete, L.L.C. B-412255, B-412255.2: Jan 13, 2016)  (pdf)


To be responsive, the bid as submitted must represent an unequivocal offer to comply with the IFB’s material terms, which include the requirement for a fixed-price. Cooper Sportswear Mfg. Co, Inc., B-238998.5, Sept. 18, 1990, 90-2 CPD ¶ 225 at 2. As a general rule, a bid must be rejected as nonresponsive if, as submitted, it does not include a price for every item requested by the IFB. GTA Containers, Inc., B-249327, Nov. 3, 1992, 92-2 ¶ 321 at 2. The requirement for fixed prices extends to options where, as here, the IFB requires bidders to price the option services and provides that the agency will evaluate such prices in making award. Upside Down Productions, B-243308, July 17, 1991, 91-2 CPD ¶ 66 at 2. Failure to submit prices for the option year leaves the bidder with no obligation to perform any of the option services at any particular price. Areawide Servs., Inc., B‑240134.4, Sept. 4, 1990, 90-2 CPD ¶ 182 at 2.

A bid that fails to price every required item may nevertheless be responsive where the bid itself establishes a pattern of pricing. This limited exception allows correction where the bid, as submitted, indicates the possibility of error, the exact nature of the error, and the intended bid price. See Childrey Contract Servs., Inc.; Orkin Exterminating Co., B-258653, B-258653.2, Feb. 9, 1995, 95-1 CPD ¶ 60 at 4; Wellco Enters., Inc., B-237512, Feb. 20, 1990, 90-1 CPD ¶ 196 at 3. Thus, bidders have been permitted to provide omitted prices where the missing price was for an item that was elsewhere consistently priced in the bid, see Telex Commc’ns, Inc.; Mil-Tech Sys., Inc., B-212385, B-212385.2, Jan. 30, 1984, 84-1 CPD ¶ 127 at 5; or where the identical price was provided for the base and another option year. See Con-Chen Enters., B-187795, Oct. 12, 1977, 77-2 CPD ¶ 284 at 2.

As an initial matter, Croman’s failure to return the pricing schedule for the fourth option year calls into question whether Croman has obligated itself to perform for the fourth option year, an essential requirement for this bid to be responsive. See Areawide Servs., Inc., supra. In any event, unlike the situation presented in Telex Commc’ns, Inc.; Mil-Tech Sys., Inc., supra, at 5, and Con-Chen Enters., supra,at 2, Croman’s bid, as submitted, does not establish a uniform pattern of pricing for all CLINs, such that the intended bid prices can be ascertained for all CLINs. Specifically, with respect to one of the fourth option year CLINs (for which Croman asks a $1.4 million correction), the corresponding line items in the base and other option years are not identically or consistently priced. Rather, as Croman acknowledges, the prices for these CLINs were escalated by rates that varied in each contract year. Furthermore, because Croman’s bid also failed to provide rolled-up prices for the base and option years, it is not possible to derive Croman’s intended price for this CLIN. Under these circumstances, Croman’s bid was properly rejected as nonresponsive.

The protest is denied.  (Croman Corporation, B-409496: Apr 29, 2014)  (pdf)


EPA received bids from 10 bidders, including Prudent and Environmental Restoration. The contracting officer calculated the price for each bid by adding the CLIN amounts entered on the B-2 price schedule, including the 2-year base period and the option year, as well as the quantity options, as they appeared in the "total" column for CLINs 0005 and 1005. The negative incentive amounts in CLINs 0004, 0009, (and the corresponding option year CLINS 1004 and 1009), which were specified to be $1,000 per property, were not included in the agency's calculation, nor did the calculation include conditional pricing in CLINs 0006 and option year CLIN 1006 (a per-property price decrease in the event EPA provided the disposal area).

The low bid was withdrawn, and Environmental Restoration was found to have submitted the next low bid, which the contracting officer calculated from the firm's schedule B-2 CLIN pricing to be $12,160,354.52; Prudent submitted the third low bid of $18,826,500.00.

Environmental Restoration requested an opportunity to correct mistakes in its bid, noting a more than $6 million discrepancy between the total price the firm had bid in schedule B-1 and the agency's total evaluated bid price based upon Environmental Restoration's CLIN pricing in schedule B-2. Specifically, Environmental Restoration informed the contracting officer that the firm's $18,674,250 total bid price mistakenly included negative incentives and that this total bid price should have been $18,679,500. Environmental Restoration also informed the contracting officer that the firm had mistakenly not extended its unit price for CLIN 0005 to reflect that this CLIN provided for a quantity of 400 properties; rather, Environmental Restoration bid $8,895 for both the unit price and the total bid price for CLIN 0005. Similarly, Environmental Restoration bid $8,895 for both the unit price and the total bid price for the option year CLIN 1005, and thus the total price for CLIN 1005 did not reflect the quantity of 300 properties. AR, Tab 14, Environmental Restoration Letter to EPA, July 16, 2009.

The agency allowed Environmental Restoration to correct its bid, and this protest followed.

Prudent challenges the agency's decision to permit Environmental Restoration to correct its claimed mistake, arguing that the IFB's terms and instructions to bidders were unambiguous and that Environmental Restoration should therefore be held to the prices it submitted on schedule B-2 and the evaluated total bid price at bid opening.

A bidder may be permitted to upwardly correct its bid price prior to award where there is clear and convincing evidence that a mistake was made, the manner in which the mistake occurred, and the intended price. See Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) sect. 14.407-3(a); Odyssey Int'l, Inc., B-296885.2, Nov. 16, 2005, 2006 CPD para. 49 at 4. Because the authority to correct mistakes alleged after bid opening but prior to award is vested in the procuring agency, and because the weight to be given the evidence in support of an asserted mistake is a question of fact, we will not disturb an agency's determination concerning bid correction unless it is unreasonable. Id.

Here, we find that the agency reasonably concluded that there was clear and convincing evidence that a mistake had occurred and the manner in which it occurred and the intended bid price. Specifically, with respect to CLINs 0005 and 1005, it was obvious that Environmental Restoration had simply failed to multiply its unit price on the B-2 schedule by the quantity option's potential maximum amount, since it listed the same number for its unit price and total price.[3] In addition, it is clear that when Environmental Restoration calculated its bid amounts in the B-1 schedule, it mistakenly included the negative incentive CLINs (0004, 0009, 1004, and 1,009) as well as the CLINs representing the amount by which the bidder would lower its per-property price in the event EPA provided the disposal area (0006 and 1006). This is clear because Environmental Restoration's calculated total prices differed from the agency's calculated total prices in exactly the amount of these CLINs. Thus, when Environmental Restoration's unit pricing is extended by the appropriate quantities, and the extended prices are totaled, using the same calculation method as the agency used for every other bidder, the sum exactly matches the amount that Environmental Restoration requested for the correction of its bid.

In short, all of the information necessary to ascertain that a mistake was made, manner in which it was made, and the amount Environmental Restoration intended to bid, was apparent from the bid itself. Moreover, correction of the mistake does not result in displacement of any lower-priced bids. We find that the agency's determination that Environmental Restoration should be permitted to correct its mistake was reasonable.

The protest is denied.  (Prudent Technologies, Inc., B-401736.3, December 9, 2009) (pdf)


IAP argues, among other things, that the agency's decision to allow Trillacorpe to correct its bid was unreasonable because Trillacorpe failed to produce clear and convincing evidence establishing the bid that was actually intended. Comments at 4‑7. Specifically, IAP contends that Trillacorpe failed to show how the increase in the two line items set forth above would have increased its bid to exactly $19,074,444, because according to Trillacorpe's bid calculation worksheet, it intended to add [deleted]% to its costs for general conditions, [deleted]% to its subcontractor work for subcontractor bonds, and [deleted]% to its bid for Trillacorpe's fee. Comments at 7; see AR, Tab 17, Sworn Statement with Bid Worksheets, at 11. IAP argues that these charges would have increased Trillacorpe's intended bid to $19,227,149. Id. IAP contends that Trillacorpe's decision not to add these adjustments to its corrected bid price is a negotiation after bid opening, and, in any case, casts doubt upon the amount of Trillacorpe's intended bid.

An agency may permit correction of a bid where clear and convincing evidence establishes both the existence of a mistake and the bid actually intended, so long as the correction would not result in displacing one or more lower bids. FAR sect. 14.407‑3(A); Reliable Mechanical, Inc., B-282874.2, Sept. 13, 1999, 99-2 CPD para. 52 at 2; Holmes Mechanical, Inc., B-281417, Jan. 13, 1999, 99-1 CPD para. 6 at 2. A request to correct a bid must be supported by statements and shall include all pertinent evidence, including original worksheets and other data used to prepare the bid, subcontractors' quotations, if any, published price lists, and any other evidence that establishes the existence of the error, the manner in which it occurred, and the bid actually intended. FAR sect. 14.407-3(g)(2). In judging the sufficiency of the evidence, we consider factors such as the closeness of the corrected bid and the next low bid as well as the range of uncertainty in the intended bid. Western Alaska Contractors, B‑220067, Jan. 22, 1986, 86-1 CPD para. 66 at 4. In general, the closer an asserted intended bid is to the next low bid, the more difficult it is to establish that it was the bid actually intended. Id. Correction of a bid may be permitted to reflect the omission of direct costs without any increase for profit where the bidder requests correction in such form and the bid would remain low whether or not the low bid is amended to reflect profit. Matzkin & Day, B‑167068, Feb. 10, 1970, 49 Comp. Gen. 480 at 483. Whether the evidence meets the clear and convincing standard is a question of fact and we will not question an agency's decision based on this evidence unless it lacks a reasonable basis. J. Schouten Constr., Inc., B-256710, June 6, 1994, 94-1 CPD para. 353 at 3.

We conclude from the record that the agency's decision to allow correction of Trillacorpe's bid was reasonable. In this regard, Trillacorpe submitted its subcontractor quotes showing the correct prices, which are then reflected on the bid worksheets, but with misplaced decimal points. Thus the number $1,070,000 was incorrectly entered as $1,070, and the number $529,460 was incorrectly entered as $52,946. The difference between these two numbers is $1,545,444, the exact amount by which Trillacorpe requested to adjust its bid.

While we recognize that Trillacorpe has elected not to add to the corrected amount the percentage charges for general conditions, subcontractor bonds, and fee--that are shown on its bid worksheet--even if these charges had been added to the bid, it would have increased only to $19,227,149, an amount still over $300,000 lower than the next lowest bid. See Comments at 7. We have held that, if there is a range of uncertainty regarding the intended bid, correction should place the contractor at the bottom end of that range. Western Alaska Contractors, supra, at 6. We also note that correction of this bid is not prejudicial to the other bidders. See Matzkin & Day, supra. Further, the agency requested and received a sworn statement from an individual who participated in the preparation of the bid, explaining the mistakes and attesting to the authenticity of the documents submitted.

Based on the record presented here, we find nothing unreasonable in the agency's decision to allow Trillacorpe to correct its bid, or the award to Trillacorpe.  (IAP-Leopardo Construction, Inc., B-401923, December 2, 2009)  (pdf)


The Navy issued the IFB to obtain dredging and related services at Submarine Base New London. The IFB required bidders to supply both unit prices and extended prices for 10 line items, and a total of the extended prices for all lines. The IFB also instructed bidders to submit both an original and one copy of their bids.

The first line item shown in the bid schedule, with a quantity of one "LS" (or lump sum), was mobilization. Since offerors therefore priced mobilization as a single lump sum, the unit price and extended price for this line should have been identical.

At the bid opening, the Navy received two bids: one from Cashman, and one from Great Lakes. Cashman's bid was consistent and complete, and reflected a total price of $9,834,765.50. Great Lakes's bid showed a total of $9,584,079.55, but it contained an apparent error on the first line item.

Specifically, on the original bid submitted by Great Lakes, the unit price for the mobilization line was $425,000, while the extended price was $1,425,000. The total bid price of $9,584,079.55 was the sum of the $1,425,000 amount for mobilization, and the extended prices for the other nine lines (which were accurate).

(paragraphs deleted)

Cashman argues that the Great Lakes bid was contradictory, that the bid could not be corrected as a clerical mistake, and therefore the Great Lakes bid should have been rejected.

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) recognizes two principal situations in which bid errors may be corrected before award. First, a clerical mistake that is apparent on the face of a bid may be corrected by the contracting officer prior to award, if the contracting officer is able to ascertain the intended bid without the benefit of advice from the bidder. See G.S. Hulsey Crushing, Inc., B--197785, Mar. 25, 1980, 80-1 CPD para. 222 at 2. Such a correction is allowable if the discrepancy admits to only one reasonable interpretation ascertainable from the face of the bid, or from reference to the government estimate, the range of other bids, or the contracting officer's logic and experience. Id.; FAR sect. 14.407-2.

Second, an agency also may allow a bidder to correct a mistake in its bid after bid opening. However, in order to protect the integrity of the procurement process, a bidder's request for upward correction of a bid after bid opening but before award may be granted only where the request is supported by clear and convincing evidence of both the existence of a mistake and the bid actually intended, and only where the correction would not result in displacing one or more lower bids. FAR sect. 14.407--3(a); Stanley Contracting, Inc., B‑282085, May 27, 1999, 99--1 CPD para. 104 at 3. Where neither situation is present, the bid may not be corrected. Bighorn Lumber Co., B-299906, Sept. 25, 2007, 2007 CPD para. 173 (protest sustained where agency improperly allowed the awardee to correct an alleged error in its bid).

The Navy argues that with reference only to the bid documents, it was proper to correct the Great Lakes bid pursuant to FAR sect. 14.407-2. AR at 4; AR, Tab 15, Agency-Level Protest Decision, at 1. We agree.

In our view, the Navy correctly concluded that Great Lakes had mistakenly omitted the digit "1" from its mobilization unit price on the "original" of its bid, while correctly reflecting the intended amount in the extended price for that line, and in the bid total, and in the correctly-completed "copy" of the bid. We have permitted correction where bidders have mistakenly omitted a digit (or inserted an extra digit) from a price, but have correctly reflected the intended amount elsewhere on the bid. E.g., Action Serv. Corp., B‑254861, Jan. 24, 1994, 94-1 CPD para. 33 at 3-4 (protest denied where bid was properly corrected when bidder mistakenly inserted extra digit in unit price); North Landing Line Constr. Co., B-239662, July 20, 1990, 90-2 CPD para. 60 at 2 (protest denied where bid was properly corrected when bidder mistakenly omitted a digit from line item price).

In our view, the considerable evidence supporting the Navy's conclusion that Great Lakes made a clerical mistake, and that the intended bid was readily discernable, persuasively overcomes Cashman's claim that the Great Lakes bid was so contradictory that the error could not be resolved, and had to be rejected.  (Cashman Dredging and Marine Contracting Co. LLP, B-401547, August 31, 2009)  (pdf)


SDV contends that the agency improperly permitted JRS to correct its bid from its alternate #2 bid amount of $1,055,750 to the award price of $8,104,376. Under FAR sect. 14.407-2, the contracting officer may correct apparent clerical mistakes in bids, so long as the contracting officer obtains from the bidder a verification of the bid intended. We have recognized that a bidder’s failure to follow IFB instructions precisely with respect to how to enter bid prices for deductive bid items is an obvious clerical mistake that can be corrected where the intended bid is evident from the face of the bid. See Transcon Assocs., B-204991, Apr. 20, 1982, 82-1 CPD para. 361 at 2-3. Here, it is clear from the face of JRS’s bid that it mistakenly inserted the amount that it intended to deduct from the base bid in the deduct alternate items on the bidding sheet rather than inserting the net amount after the deduction. As noted, the agency verified the intended bid with JRS. While SDV notes that the agency initially determined that this was a minor informality that was waivable under FAR sect. 14.405 instead of a clerical error correctable under FAR sect. 14.407-2, the record here demonstrates that the error was a correctable clerical error and that the agency complied with FAR sect. 14.407-2 in correcting the bid. (SDV Construction Group, LLC, B-400703, January 7, 2009) (pdf)


Bighorn challenges the agency decision to correct Trapper’s bid. The agency responds that Trapper’s bid may be corrected to reflect the $22.13 bid rate because the contracting officer found clear and convincing evidence to support that an error had been made in Trapper’s bid, the manner in which it was made and Trapper’s intended bid price. In any event, the agency argues that there is no prejudice to Bighorn because Trapper’s bid is high with or without the adjustment. An agency may allow a bidder to correct a mistake in its bid after bid opening when the bidder presents clear and convincing evidence that a mistake occurred, the manner in which it occurred and the intended bid price. A & J Constr. Co., Inc., B‑213495, Apr. 18, 1984, 84-1 CPD para. 443 at 5. Since the authority to correct mistakes alleged after bid opening but prior to award is vested in the procuring agency, and because the weight to be given the evidence in support of an asserted mistake is a question of fact, we will not disturb an agency’s determination concerning bid correction unless there is no reasonable basis for the decision. Id.  First, we agree with the agency that there is clear and convincing evidence that a mistake in Trapper’s bid occurred. Trapper’s bid of $522,281.10, resulting in a total bid value of $12,326,356,241.10, was obviously an unreasonable amount.  The record shows that the agency assumed that Trapper had made a clerical error in not entering the requested WAM bid rate but instead entering the total value, that is, the intended WAM bid rate multiplied by the total estimated sawtimber stumpage covered by the prospectus, and that Trapper’s intended WAM bid rate could be ascertained by dividing Trapper’s bid as submitted by 23,601 ccf, that is, $22.13. A clerical error that is apparent on the face of a bid may be corrected by the contracting officer prior to award, if the contracting officer is able to ascertain the intended bid without the benefit of advice from the bidder. See SCA Servs. Of Georgia, Inc., B-209151, Mar. 1, 1983, 83-1 CPD para. 209 at 4; G.S. Hulsey Crushing, Inc., B-197785, Mar. 25, 1980, 80-1 CPD para. 222 at 2. Such a correction is allowable if the discrepancy admits to only one reasonable interpretation ascertainable from the face of the bid, or from reference to the government estimate, the range of other bids, or the contracting officer’s logic and experience. G.S. Hulsey Crushing, Inc., supra.  However here, contrary to the agency’s assumption, the $22.13 WAM bid rate was not logically ascertainable from the face of Trapper’s bid--$522,281.10 divided by 23,601 ccf equals 22.129617, not $22.13. If this mistake were simply that of inserting the extended value on the bid form instead of the requested WAM bid rate, no such discrepancy would be expected. In fact, Trapper advised the agency that its intended WAM bid rate was $22.22 for Lodgepole Pine and Other, and that Trapper intended this bid rate is confirmed by the fact that if $22.22 were multiplied by the 23,505 ccf quantity of Lodgepole Pine and Other, the product would equal Trapper’s actual bid of $522.281.10. Thus, this mistake was not a correctable clerical error apparent from the face of the bid. See Sundance Constr., Inc., B-182485, Feb. 28, 1975, 75‑1 CPD para. 123 at 5 (contracting officer could not ascertain intended bid by multiplying quoted unit prices by correct units).  Nevertheless, as indicated above, the mistake can be corrected if the bidder presents clear and convincing evidence that a mistake occurred, the manner in which it occurred and the intended bid price. A & J Constr. Co., Inc., supra. There is no evidence that $22.13 was Trapper’s intended WAM bid rate. Indeed, Trapper’s request to the agency to correct its WAM bid rate to $22.13 was not supported by worksheets or any other form of bid calculation documents. In fact, the record shows that it was not Trapper who calculated this amount, but the agency’s bid official. See AR at 3. While the agency asserts that Trapper’s bid rate would be higher than Bighorn’s in any case, there is no evidence in the record supporting this assertion. In fact, Trapper, by its own admission, did not account in the $22.22 WAM bid rate for the 96 ccf of True Fir timber, and there is no evidence in the record whether this failure was intentional or the result of a mistaken or erroneous interpretation of the bid instructions, much less any indication as to how this would have affected Trapper’s WAM bid rate. This leaves open the possibility that Trapper may, in the exercise of its business judgment, have found it uneconomical to harvest True Fir under the terms of the prospectus or that its bid rate would have been more significantly affected if it had been accounted for, such that its bid could closely approach or be displaced by Bighorn’s bid. See Protester’s Comments at 5 n.5. Where a bidder fails to include a price for a contract requirement, and there is no clear and convincing evidence of the intended bid if this price had been included, the bidder may not be permitted to recalculate its bid to arrive at a bid not intended before bid opening. See Astro Quality Servs., Inc., B‑280676, Nov. 5, 1998, 98-2 CPD para. 107 at 3-4. To allow a bidder to correct its bid in such circumstances would prejudice the other bidders and the competitive bid system. See Panoramic Studios, B-200664, Aug. 17, 1981, 81‑2 CPD para. 144 at 5. Accordingly, the agency’s decision to allow Trapper to correct its bid was not reasonable. Instead, the agency should have permitted Trapper to withdraw its bid. See id. at 4-5. We recommend that award be made to Bighorn if otherwise appropriate.  (Bighorn Lumber Company, Inc., B-299906, September 25, 2007) (pdf)


We conclude from the record that the agency’s determination to allow ERS-JV to correct its bid lacks a reasonable basis. Our concerns are twofold. First, the bidder’s explanation is illogical in view of the way its electronic spreadsheet was structured, and raises questions as to whether a mistake occurred at all. Second, the agency’s rationale for concluding that clear and convincing evidence supported the bidder’s request not only fails to address these questions, but relies on mischaracterizations of ERS-JV’s explanation.

ERS-JV prepared its bid using a computer-generated spreadsheet that contained imbedded formulas to automatically calculate various costs, as well as the total dollar amount for each line item. For the [deleted] line item under both the base and option requirements, the spreadsheet was set up so that the manual entry of figures in the cells for estimated quantity, unit of measure, and unit price would automatically generate and insert figures in the cells for unit overhead cost, total overhead cost, total direct cost, and total dollar amount. When these first three figures are manually entered into the base requirement section of the spreadsheet, the total dollar amount in the final cell--[deleted]--is automatically calculated and inserted. Likewise, when these first three figures are manually entered into the option requirement section of the spreadsheet, the total dollar amount in the final cell--[deleted]--is automatically calculated and inserted. These figures result from operation of the spreadsheet’s imbedded formulas.  ERS-JV’s explanation for its alleged mistake is as follows: its director ignored the formulas set up in the spreadsheet and overrode the automatically “calculated” total amount of [deleted] for the base requirement by inserting, instead, a “non-calculated” (that is, not calculated by the formulas) amount of [deleted]--but that he actually intended for the amount to be the “calculated” amount of [deleted], the amount he overrode. Likewise, the director ignored the formulas set up in the spreadsheet and overrode the automatically “calculated” amount of [deleted] for the option requirement by inserting, instead, a “non-calculated” amount of [deleted]--but that he actually intended for the amount to be the “calculated” amount of [deleted], the amount he overrode. In view of the automated features of the spreadsheet, which are readily apparent from its electronic version, this explanation is illogical and raises several questions ERS-JV does not answer. The ERS-JV director does not explain why he ignored the formulas set up in the spreadsheet and overrode the automatically calculated figures. He does not explain the discrepancy between that intentional act and his current claim that the figures he overrode, calculated by the formulas he ignored, were, after all, the intended figures. He does not explain the derivation of these non-calculated figures or why he inserted these particular figures. He does not explain why he did not realize an error had been made as soon as he inserted the “non-calculated” amounts, even though, with respect to the option requirement, this action automatically resulted in insertion of a negative number in the total direct cost cell, in plain sight next to the total dollar amount cell on the computer screen before him. The questions raised by ERS-JV’s incomplete explanation cast doubt on its claim that there was a mistake at all.  The agency’s determination that ERS-JV’s request for bid correction was supported by clear and convincing evidence fails to address these questions and, in fact, relies on mischaracterizations of ERS-JV’s explanation.  (Miramar Construction, Inc., B-298609, October 31, 2006) (pdf)


A bidder who seeks upward correction of its bid price prior to award must submit clear and convincing evidence that a mistake was made, the manner in which the mistake occurred, and the intended price. Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) sect. 14.407-3(a). Workpapers, including records of computer generated software spreadsheets/workpapers (hardcopy printouts, computer disks, tapes or other software media), may constitute clear and convincing evidence if they are in good order, and indicate the intended bid price, and there is no contravening evidence. Holmes Mech., Inc., B-281417, Jan. 13, 1999, 99-1 CPD para. 6 at 2. Whether the evidence is sufficient to meet this standard is a question of fact that an agency must decide. Our Office only questions this decision where it lacks a reasonable basis. H.A. Sack Co., Inc., B-278359, Jan. 20, 1998, 98-1 CPD para. 27 at 3. Correction of the bid is not precluded merely because the corrected bid price is close to the next lowest bid price; while such a case requires a higher degree of scrutiny to ascertain the amount of the intended bid, the bid still can be corrected if the intended price is clearly established and the bid remains low. Pacific Components, Inc., B-252585, June 21, 1993, 93-1 CPD para. 478 at 7. Here, the agency acknowledges, and we agree, that Odyssey’s documentation establishes by clear and convincing evidence that Odyssey made a $1,000,000 error in transcribing its structural steel subcontractor’s quote in section 5120 of its spreadsheets. There is also no dispute that when this error is corrected and the markups and rounding are taken into account that Odyssey’s corrected bid would be $7,317,216. The only dispute concerns the sufficiency of the spreadsheets as evidence of the intended bid because of additional alleged mistakes, other than those claimed by Odyssey, that DOL suspected were made in the other areas of the spreadsheets, which in DOL’s view meant that Odyssey’s spreadsheets were not in good order so as to establish by clear and convincing evidence its intended bid price. In our view, DOL did not act reasonably in determining that Odyssey’s spreadsheets were not in good order and did not provide clear and convincing evidence of Odyssey’s intended bid. DOL’s reversal of its initial decision permitting Odyssey to upwardly correct the bid was based upon what DOL regarded as possible additional mistakes in the spreadsheets beyond the one Odyssey claimed. Under FAR sect. 14.407‑1, in cases of apparent mistakes and in cases where the contracting officer has reason to believe that a mistake may have been made, the contracting officer is required to request from the bidder a verification of the bid, calling attention to the suspected mistakes. Since DOL suspected other mistakes in Odyssey’s bid than the one Odyssey was requesting to correct, consistent with FAR sect. 14.407-1, it should have requested further verification of Odyssey’s bid price, and called Odyssey’s attention to the suspected mistakes in its spreadsheets. In this regard, FAR sect. 14.407‑3(g)(1)(iv) provides that to ensure that the bidder will be put on notice of mistakes suspected by the contracting officer, the bidder should be advised as appropriate “of any other information, proper for disclosure, that leads the contracting officer to believe that there is a mistake in bid.” See Enco Dredging, B‑284107, Feb. 22, 2000, 2000 CPD para. 44 at 6. Here, the agency did not advise Odyssey of these additional suspected mistakes prior to rejecting Odyssey’s request for correction (which effectively served as a rejection of Odyssey’s bid). Based on our review of the record, including the spreadsheets, the CD, and the hearing testimony from the individual responsible for preparing Odyssey’s bid, we find that none of the items referenced by DOL (or all these items in total) as indicating a possible mistake beyond that claimed by Odyssey provides a valid basis for denying Odyssey’s correction request. (Odyssey International, Inc., B-296855.2, November 16, 2005) (pdf)


Here, we find that the agency properly allowed Mr. Fletcher to participate in the auction, notwithstanding the discrepancy in its total stated amount, because the total amount intended by Mr.Fletcher can readily be determined from the bid to be $4,895.55, and the bid was therefore responsive. That is, because Mr. Fletcher indicated that he was bidding the minimum acceptable bid rate of $22.77, his total bid value is easily determined by multiplying $22.77, the minimum acceptable bid rate, by 215, the estimated MBF of salvage ponderosa pine sawtimber. Since Mr.Fletcher's qualifying bid was at least $4,895.55, it was properly considered to be responsive, such that Mr. Fletcher could participate in the auction. See Hughes-Sillers Constr. Co., Inc. , B-241466, Jan. 3, 1991, 91-1 CPD 7 at2; TCI, Ltd. , B-220578, Oct.21, 1985, 852CPD 433 at 3. (Kenneth Ashe, B-295587, March 3, 2005) (pdf)


For upward correction of a low bid, workpapers, including records of computer-generated software spreadsheets, may constitute clear and convincing evidence if they are in good order and indicate the intended bid price, and there is no contravening evidence. Alpha Constr. & Eng’g, Inc., B-261493, Oct. 5, 1995, 95-2 CPD ¶ 166 at 3; McInnis Bros. Constr., Inc., B‑251138, Mar. 1, 1993, 93-1 CPD ¶ 186 at 5. In addition, where the mistake has a calculable effect on the bid price and that effect can be determined by a formula evident from the bidder’s workpapers, the overall intended bid may be ascertained by taking into account the effects of the error on other bid calculations based on the mistaken entry. Continental Heller Corp., B-230559, June 14, 1988, 88-1 CPD ¶ 571 at 3. Moreover, correction may be allowed, even where the intended bid price cannot be determined exactly, provided there is clear and convincing evidence that the amount of the intended bid would fall within a narrow range of uncertainty and would remain low after correction. McInnis Bros. Constr., Inc., supra. Our Office treats the question of whether the evidence of the intended bid meets the clear and convincing standard as a question of fact, and we will not question an agency’s decision in this regard unless it lacks a reasonable basis. Id. We find that the agency reasonably determined that Emerson’s evidence of its claimed bid mistake and intended bid price was sufficient to meet this standard and permit correction of the bid. Our review of the record, including Emerson’s computer-generated spreadsheets, confirms that the price at spreadsheet cell number D159 (for electrical work) was not included in the subtotal at cell number D160. Based on the format of the spreadsheet, it is clear that the $3,702,025 price at cell number D159 was intended to be included in the firm’s subtotal price. The record is also clear that the subtotal price was to serve as the firm’s base price for application of its mark-up price adjustments for certain costs such as bonds, insurance, and fee; the amount of the mark-ups then was to be based on the firm’s standard rates for similar sized contracts for the same kind of work. (Roy Anderson Corporation, B-292555; B-292555.2, October 10, 2003)  (pdf)


We recognize the inconsistencies and gaps in the record that Gulf-Atlantic focuses on, and we believe that the Army could have reasonably decided to deny Advance's correction request. Nonetheless, because the Army decided to allow correction, we cannot sustain the protest unless we conclude that the Army's decision was unreasonable. Although we view this as a close call, we conclude that the Army's action was not unreasonable.  (Gulf-Atlantic Constructors, Inc., B-289032, January 4, 2002)


Protest of contracting agency's decision to decline to allow upward price correction of allegedly mistaken low bid is denied where agency reasonably concluded that the worksheets and other supporting material submitted by protester do not provide clear and convincing evidence of the protester's intended bid.  (Metric Constructors, Inc., B-285854, October 17, 2000)


The critical piece of evidence submitted by Cooper in support of its claim is its worksheets. This Office has held that, as long as the bid remains low after correction, worksheets may constitute clear and convincing evidence if they are in good order and indicate the intended bid price, and there is no contravening evidence. See, e.g., Reliable Mechanical, Inc., supra; J. Schouten Constr., Inc., supra. We are unpersuaded by the agency's arguments that Cooper's worksheets are not in good order.  (Cooper Construction, Inc., B-285880, September 18, 2000)


Agency's decision to permit upward correction of the apparent low bid is reasonable where the low bidder's worksheets reasonably established clear and convincing evidence of the mistake and the bid intended, and the protester's contentions are premised on apparent differences between the methodology by which it calculated its bid and how the awardee prepared its bid.  (Reliable Mechanical, Inc., B-282874.2, September 13, 1999)


For upward correction of a low bid, worksheets, including records of computer-generated software spreadsheets, may constitute clear and convincing evidence if they are in good order and indicate the intended price, and there is no contravening evidence. Asbestos Control Management, Inc., B-279521, June 23, 1998, 98-1 CPD para.169 at 5.  We conclude from the record here that the agency's decision to allow LHK to correct its bid was unreasonable because there was no reasonable basis to find clear or convincing evidence either of the specific mistake claimed or of the intended bid.  (Stanley Contracting, Inc., B-282085, May 27, 1999)


Mistake in bid may not be corrected where the correction would result in the bid's displacement of two lower bids and the amount of intended bid cannot be ascertained from the bid and solicitation.  (H. Angelo & Company, Inc., B-281228.2, April 12, 1999)

Comptroller General - Listing of Decisions

For the Government For the Protester
Croman Corporation, B-409496: Apr 29, 2014  (pdf) Ultimate Concrete, L.L.C. B-412255, B-412255.2: Jan 13, 2016  (pdf)  (NOTE:  Although this is listed as for the protester because of the mistake in bid issue, the protest was not sustained due to a lack of prejudice.)
Prudent Technologies, Inc., B-401736.3, December 9, 2009 (pdf) Bighorn Lumber Company, Inc., B-299906, September 25, 2007 (pdf)
IAP-Leopardo Construction, Inc., B-401923, December 2, 2009  (pdf) Miramar Construction, Inc., B-298609, October 31, 2006 (pdf)
Cashman Dredging and Marine Contracting Co. LLP, B-401547, August 31, 2009  (pdf) Odyssey International, Inc., B-296855.2, November 16, 2005 (pdf)
SDV Construction Group, LLC, B-400703, January 7, 2009 (pdf) Aquila Fitness Consulting Systems, Ltd., B-286488, January 17, 2001
Kenneth Ashe, B-295587, March 3, 2005 (pdf) Cooper Construction, Inc., B-285880, September 18, 2000
Roy Anderson Corporation, B-292555; B-292555.2, October 10, 2003  (pdf) Stanley Contracting, Inc., B-282085, May 27, 1999
Mid Eastern Builders, Inc., B-290717, September 9, 2002  
Gulf-Atlantic Constructors, Inc., B-289032, January 4, 2002  
Si-Nor, Inc., B-288990, December 17, 2001 (.pdf)  
B&M Cillessen Construction Co., Inc., B-287449.2, June 5, 2001  
Metric Constructors, Inc., B-285854, October 17, 2000  
Construction Technology Group, Inc., B-283857, January 18, 2000  
Thorner Press, Inc., B-283500, December 2, 1999  
Reliable Mechanical, Inc., B-282874.2, September 13, 1999  
H. Angelo & Company, Inc., B-281228.2, April 12, 1999  
   
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