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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Duvall

Got Proposal Submissions? Plan Ahead, Submit Early, and Confirm Receipt

We are nearing the end of FY2018 and that means some contractors are feverishly working on proposals with hopes of winning contracts during the fiscal year-end spending surge. These contracts tend to be lucrative ("use it or lose it" mentality), as each has the potential to help you increase revenue and bolster past performance. But, to capitalize on this opportunity, contractors must first ensure that your proposals are timely submitted to be eligible for an award. In that regard, it's important to remember that some agencies use technology that may prevent or delay the transmission of your proposals… so plan ahead, submit early, and confirm receipt.

Generally, GAO has stated that, for a proposal to be deemed timely, the contractor must show that it was received by the agency at the designated place before the deadline. [1] For email proposal submissions, this typically means that the proposal must reach the designated email inbox prior to the deadline. While timely submitting your proposal to the designated inbox seems like a simple task, contractors may experience problems because some agencies use technology that may prevent your proposal from being delivered. [2] This was the case in ManTech Advanced Systems International, where GAO determined that contractor's proposal was untimely despite the protester showing that it received an electronic email delivery confirmation and that its proposal timely reached the agency’s enterprise email security gateway server (EEMSG). [3]

ManTech Decision

ManTech filed a protest challenging the determination that its emailed proposal submission was untimely and that the agency should be required to consider it for evaluation. Here, the protester submitted its proposal via email to the agency's designated email inbox before the proposal deadline and received an Outlook delivery confirmation. When the agency didn't acknowledge receipt, the protester called the agency to verify that it's proposal was received. Upon learning that the agency did not receive the proposal, the protester emailed its proposal again to the designated inbox and to other agency personnel (Outlook delivery confirmation). Unfortunately, the protester's proposal never reached the designated agency inbox and, after the deadline passed, the agency informed the protester it would not be considered for award.

Here, the issue centered on the delivery of the protester's proposal. Specifically, the proposal was not delivered to the designated inbox because, after the EEMSG scanned the email, the EEMSG sent it to an agency exchange email server that blocked it from being delivered to the designated inbox. [4] While the protester received an initial Outlook delivery confirmation, it did not receive a bounce back from the exchange email server because the EEMSG cannot initiate an outbound connection to the internet. GAO found that even though the protester's proposal reached the EEMSG, the protester failed to show that it delivered its proposal to the designated inbox before the deadline. GAO denied the protest.


ManTech is cautionary reminder that some agencies use technology that may prevent (or potentially delay) the transmission of your email proposal submission. Notably, GAO neither relaxed nor changed the requirement that, to be timely, a contractor's emailed proposal must be delivered to the designated place before the deadline. [5] It is therefore paramount that contractors plan ahead and email your proposal early to avoid hiccups in the submission process.

Submit your proposals–and confirm delivery with the agency–well before the deadline.


[1] See Tele-Consultants, Inc., B-414135, Feb. 27, 2017, 2017 CPD ¶ 132 at 5; see also Latvian Connection Trading & Constr., LLC, B-402410, Feb. 25, 2010, 2010 CPD ¶ 58 at 3.

[2] Technology may also cause considerable delay in the transmission of your email proposal submissions.

[3] ManTech Advanced Systems International, Inc., B-414985, October 20, 2017.

[4] The EEMSG scans incoming messages for malware and then delivers the email to the recipient’s e-mail exchange server if no malware is found. The recipient’s exchange email server then has the ability to either “block, quarantine, drop, or deliver” the email.

[5] In footnote 3, GAO also discussed the late proposal exception under FAR 15.208(b)(1), stating that "[s]ince the agency never received the proposal in the designated mailbox, none of the late proposal exceptions . . . are applicable here[.]"

DISCLAIMER: This post is for informational purposes only and may be construed as attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. The information provided above is not intended to be legal advice and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney.

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