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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Duvall

#GovConThoughts: GAO Protest is Timely Reminder on Late Proposals

This GAO bid protest decision is a timely reminder on late proposals. For RFPs, the rule is simple: late is late. Contractors should take heed and email proposals well in advance – a proposal is timely when it is timely delivered, not sent.

Here, the record shows that the protester emailed its proposal 80 minutes before the deadline but it did not reach the agency. The protester used emails from 41 minutes after the deadline, the protester's email system said “[d]elivery to these recipients or groups is complete, but no delivery notification was sent by the destination server.”

About 3 hours later, the protester emailed its proposal again, this time to the email addresses from the RFP. The protester's email included, “It has come to our attention that the proposal we submitted earlier today . . . may not have reached you.” In that email, the protester also stated that the addresses in its first email were from on, but those did not match the email in the RFP.

Soon thereafter, the agency sent a letter stating that the proposal was rejected as late because it was delivered to the email specified in the RFP after the closing time.

In its protest, the protester's main argument was essentially that it was permissible to send its proposal to the email on It also argued that the RFP only mandated the proposal be sent to the CO and CS, regardless of which email it used, and that the RFP's email addresses were for questions. In other words, it was not “impermissible or unreasonable” for the protester to use the email on to submit its proposal, rather than the addresses in the RFP.

The agency's response was that the only email containing the protester's proposal was the 2nd email, which arrived hours late. Because it was late, the proposal was properly rejected.

GAO ultimately denied the protest. GAO relied on the RFP instruction, which said to send proposals to the CO and CS. Two subsections earlier, the RFP included the correct CO and CS emails. In GAO's view, interpretation of the RFP "could leave no reasonably diligent offeror in doubt that it should use the email addresses for those individuals that had appeared two subsections earlier, also within the proposal submission instructions." GAO also concluded that by ignoring the RFP, and instead using emails on, the protester "bore the risk that its emailed proposal would not be delivered timely."


This bid protest is a cautionary reminder to email proposals well before the solicitation deadline and to the email addresses listed in the solicitation. Because it is an offeror's responsibility to ensure its proposal is timely delivered, contractors should account for all types of delays – email issues, malware gateways, file size issues, formatting, etc. – when submitting bids.

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