DOCUMENT FOR PUBLIC RELEASE
The choice issued on the date beneath was topic to a GAO Protecting Order.
This redacted model has been authorized for public launch.
Matter of: Individuals, Expertise and Processes, LLC
File: B-419385; B-419385.2
Date: February 2, 2021
Craig A. Holman, Esq., and Nathaniel E. Castellano, Esq., Arnold & Porter Kaye
Scholer, LLP, for the protester.
Kathleen Ok. Barksdale, Esq., Common Companies Administration, for the company.
Kasia Dourney, Esq., and Evan Williams, Esq., Workplace of the Common Counsel, GAO,
participated within the preparation of the choice.
Protest difficult the company’s rejection of the protester’s proposal is denied the place
the file exhibits that: the proposal was by no means acquired by the strategy for submission
of proposals designated by the solicitation; the protester’s subsequent proposal submission
by way of e mail was not a certified technique for submission and doesn’t fall inside an exception
to the late proposal rule; and there’s no proof of systemic failure of the web
portal approved for submission of proposals.
Individuals, Expertise and Processes, LLC (PTP), a service-disabled veteran-owned small
enterprise of Tampa, Florida, protests the willpower by the Common Companies
Administration (GSA) that its proposal was late and subsequently ineligible for consideration
underneath request for proposals (RFP) No. 03200029 for world fielding providers. The
protester contends that the company ought to have accepted its proposal as a result of system
failure of the company’s on-line portal designated for submission of proposals, the proposal
being really retained by the portal, and the protester’s subsequent submission of its
proposal by way of e mail.
We deny the protest.
On September 9, 2020, GSA issued the RFP on behalf of the Division of the Military, Military
Undertaking Administration Mission Management, searching for proposals for world fielding help for
challenge supervisor mission command product distribution. Company Report (AR), Exh. 1, RFP
at 9. The
solicitation contemplated award of a activity order to small enterprise pool 1
holders of GSA’s One Acquisition Answer for Built-in Companies (OASIS)
indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract, utilizing the procedures of
Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) subpart 16.5. Id. at 1. As
related to this protest, the OASIS small enterprise contract incorporates by reference FAR
provision 52.215-1, Directions to Offerors–Aggressive Acquisition (Jan. 2017).
Protest, Exh. 1, OASIS Contract at 62.
This protest facilities on the proposal submission necessities, as established by the
solicitation. The RFP, as amended, established the deadline for receipt of proposals
as “on or earlier than” October 13, 2020 “at 4:00 PM EST.” Id. at 381. The
solicitation suggested that proposals acquired “after the deadline and time are late and
is not going to be thought of.” Id. at 1, 2. The solicitation additionally instructed
that proposals have to be submitted by way of GSA ASSIST, i.e.,the company’s on-line proposal
submission portal. Id. at 1.
As a way to submit a proposal utilizing the ASSIST portal, offerors had been required to
manually enter labor charges for every contract line merchandise quantity (CLIN) from their value
proposals into the ASSIST database, and individually add their value and technical
proposal submissions. Contracting Officer’s Assertion (COS) at 1; RFP at
2. Below the solicitation, offerors had been instructed to add a technical proposal, a
accomplished staffing matrix, in addition to a value proposal with a accomplished pricing
The file accommodates the ASSIST system server logs for PTP’s portal exercise on
October 13. These logs present that on that day, PTP accessed the system and
clicked on the “create quote” button at 1:42:08 p.m. AR, Exh. 5, Protester’s Oct. 14, 2020
Electronic mail with ASSIST System Logs at 562. The logs additional present that the protester
clicked on “connect file” button at 1:46:16 p.m., and that PTP’s person session ended at
3:45:12 p.m. Id.
At 3:46:13 p.m., PTP logged again into the ASSIST system, and at 3:48:50 p.m., once more
clicked on the “create quote” button. Id. at563. Then, PTP twice used
the “connect information” button, at 3:53:56 p.m., and once more at 3:57:24 p.m. Id. at
564; Memorandum of Legislation (MOL) at 3. The log entries don’t point out that PTP ever
clicked on the proposal “submit” button. AR, Exh. 5, Protester’s Oct. 14, 2020 Electronic mail
with ASSIST System Logsat564; AR, Exh. 3, Incident Particulars Report at 549 (stating that
PTP’s try of clicking on the “submit” button “would have been recorded” within the system
The protester represents that it skilled “vital technical difficulties when
getting into its labor charges into the ASSIST system.” Protest at 5. Particularly,
the protester states that whereas getting into PTP’s proposal knowledge by ASSIST, together with
importing PTP’s proposal attachments, the ASSIST system unexpectedly closed, logging PTP
out within the course of. Id. After restarting the info entry course of, PTP
states that it realized that it couldn’t full the method earlier than the deadline, and at
4:00 p.m., emailed its proposal to the contracting officer and the contract
specialist. Id.; AR, Exh. 2, Protester’s Oct. 13, 2020 Electronic mail at 492.
The company states that at 4:01 p.m., the contracting officer acquired an e mail from the
protester, together with its proposal as an attachment, advising that “we’re having points with
GSA digital submission.” AR, Exh. 2, Protester’s Oct. 13, 2020 Electronic mail at 492.
Based on the company, the contract specialist acquired this e mail from PTP a short time
later, at 4:09 p.m. Company Resp. to Supp. Doc Manufacturing at 1; Decl. of
Department Chief, GSA Chief Data Officer at 1.
The contracting officer recognized six proposals submitted to the ASSIST portal in
response to the solicitation, none of which was submitted by PTP. COS
at 1. The contracting officer then despatched an inquiry to the ASSIST helpdesk to
decide whether or not the portal had skilled any outages or technical connectivity
points. Id. The helpdesk responded that there have “not been any
reported outages at present.” Id.; AR, Exh. 3, Incident Particulars Report at 551.
Thereafter, at 4:38 p.m., the contracting officer acquired a telephone name from the
protester, asserting that PTP had difficulties submitting its proposal by the ASSIST
portal. COS at 2. The contracting officer subsequently reviewed the ASSIST
digital contract file (ECF), which is a repository for offerors’ proposals as soon as they’re
uploaded, and recognized three of PTP’s proposal attachments that had been uploaded and
retained by the system at 1:46 p.m. that afternoon: quantity 1, technical proposal;
quantity 2, value proposal; and the staffing matrix. Id. at 2. The fourth
attachment of PTP’s proposal, the pricing template, was retained by the system at 4:00:52
p.m. AR, Exh. 4, ECF Log for ITSS Order No. ID03200029 at 554.
On October 14, the contracting officer acquired a follow-up e mail from PTP, containing
additional clarification of the technical difficulties the protester encountered with the ASSIST
portal. AR, Exh. 5, Protester’s Oct. 14, 2020 Electronic mail with ASSIST System Logs. In
mild of those allegations, the company commenced an investigation to find out whether or not
there was a systemic failure or different malfunction oftheASSISTportal on October 13.
COS at 2. Throughout this investigation, each the ASSIST helpdesk and the GSA program
analyst overseeing the performance of the ASSIST portal confirmed the sooner report that
there have been no systemic technical points with the portal on that day. Id.; AR,
Exh. 6, Decl. of GSA Program Analyst at 1.
On October 20, the protester despatched one other e mail to the company describing the technical
points it skilled whereas trying to submit its proposal, and alleging that “[o]ne of
the exacerbating points was the archaic requirement handy enter voluminous CLIN entries
for pricing line by line, fairly than simply enabling knowledge migration from an Excel
spreadsheet or importing of an Excel spreadsheet for pricing data.” AR, Exh.
7, Protester’s Oct. 20, 2020 Electronic mail at 569.
On October 21, the company notified PTP by e mail that its proposal wouldn’t be
thought of for award. AR, Exh. 8, Company’s Oct. 21, 2020 Electronic mail at 573.This protest
PTP challenges the rejection of its proposal from
consideration. PTP argues that the company improperly decided
that its proposal was late as a result of the proposal was well timed retained by the ASSIST
system at 4:00:52 p.m., i.e., precisely on the proposal submission deadline of 4:00
p.m. The protester additionally alleges that after PTP skilled technical points with the
proposal submission portal, it well timed emailed the whole proposal package deal to the
contracting officer and contract specialist. Protest at 1. In its
supplemental protest, PTP asserts that ASSIST suffers from systemic points hindering
proposal submission, of which, the protester alleges, the company was conscious. On this
foundation, PTP argues that even when the proposal was premature, GSA ought to have accepted its
proposal. Feedback and Supp. Protest at 7-10.
In response, the company maintains that it moderately rejected PTP’s
proposal. The company asserts that it by no means acquired the protester’s full
proposal by the submission deadline by the one technique approved within the
solicitation, the ASSIST on-line portal. MOL at 5. With respect to the
tried e mail submission, GSA argues that “using e mail was by no means recognized
within the solicitation as an alternate technique of proposal submission.” MOL at 5, 6.
Moreover, GSA factors out that the e-mail with the PTP proposal “didn’t seem within the
[contracting officer’s] inbox till 4:01 [p.m.],” and therefore, was acquired late.
Id. at 6. The agencyalso disputes the protester’s allegations of systemic
failure of the ASSIST system, stating that PTP’s claims are primarily based on hypothesis as there
isn’t any proof within the file to help PTP’s rivalry on this regard.
Id. Primarily based on the file earlier than us, we agree with the company.
It’s an offeror’s accountability to ship its proposal to the correct place on the
correct time. Onsite OHS, B-406449, Might 30, 2012, 2012 CPD ¶ 178 at 4 (proposal
correctly excluded from consideration as a result of it was not submitted by the strategy
approved by the solicitation). Furthermore, the protester has the burden of displaying
that it well timed delivered its proposal to the company on the specified handle.
SigNet Techs., Inc., B-417435, July 3, 2019, 2019 CPD ¶ 247 at 4-5. An company
will not be required to contemplate a proposal the place there isn’t any proof that the proposal was
“really acquired.” Tele-Consultants, Inc., B-414135, Feb. 27, 2017, 2017 CPD
¶ 132 at 5.
As famous above, the OASIS contract automobile integrated by reference FAR
provision 52.215-1, Directions to Offerors-Aggressive Acquisitions, which states, in
pertinent half, that “[o]fferors are accountable for submitting proposals . . . in order to
attain the Authorities workplace designated within the solicitation by the point specified within the
solicitation.” Protest, Exh. 1, OASIS Contract at 62, FAR provision
52.215-1(c)(3). Related to this protest, the RFP supplied that the
unique technique of submission of proposals was the GSA ASSIST portal. RFP at
1, 2. Of specific significance right here, the solicitation didn’t determine e mail as an
acceptable technique of submitting a proposal. See id.
For the explanations mentioned beneath, we discover no foundation to query the company’s resolution to
reject the protester’s proposal as late.
ASSIST On-line Portal
First, the protester contends that it well timed submitted its proposal by the ASSIST
portal. On this regard, PTP asserts that its proposal–including its last
attachment, the pricing template–was retained throughout the ASSIST database at 4:00:52 p.m.,
i.e., “on” the 4:00 p.m. proposal submission deadline. Feedback and Supp.
Protest at 1, 3, 10-16. In different phrases, PTP argues that its proposal was not late
as a result of it was underneath the federal government’s management previous to 4:01 p.m. On this foundation, PTP
asserts that it was improper for the company to find out that its proposal was
In figuring out whether or not or not a proposal was “underneath the federal government’s management” previous to
the time set for receipt of proposals, our Workplace has persistently said that an offeror
should, at a minimal, have relinquished custody of the proposal to the federal government.
B&S Transp., Inc., B-404648.3, April 8, 2011, 2011 CPD ¶ 84 at 4; see additionally
Quick Sys. Res., Inc., B-292856, Dec. 9, 2003, 2003 CPD ¶ 227 at 3-4. This
requirement precludes any chance that an offeror might alter, revise, or in any other case
modify its proposal after different offerors’ competing proposals have been submitted.
Right here, the protester states that it “relinquished management” over the 4 attachments of
its proposal as soon as the ASSIST system retained them as a result of there isn’t any indication within the
file that PTP “might retract or revise the proposal volumes as soon as ASSIST retained
them.” Feedback on Company Resp. to Req. for Add’l Briefing at 12 (citing Carothers
Constr. Inc., B-235910, Oct. 11, 1989, 89-2 CPD ¶ 338).
Primarily based upon our evaluate of the file, we discover that the protester has failed to determine
that it submitted its proposal by way of the ASSIST system, as required by the
With respect to the retention of offerors’ information within the system, the file exhibits that
“the file attachments are saved” within the system “even when that quote is in progress
and hasn’t been submitted.” AR, Exh. 3, Incident Particulars Report at 549 (emphasis
added). The file additionally signifies that till the proposal is efficiently submitted
within the ASSIST portal, the offeror has the power to add new attachments, and
doubtlessly modify or revise its proposal. That’s, though the ASSIST system
retains proposals which can be uploaded to the system, an offeror doesn’t relinquish management
of its proposal except and till the proposal is efficiently submitted.
Thus, the file reveals that PTP by no means really submitted its proposal although the
ASSIST on-line portal.
Though the proposal was retained by the system within the ECF at 4:00:52 p.m., it was not
transmitted to a delegated proposal receipt location. See Company Resp. to
Req. for Add’l Briefing at 3; see additionally AR, Exh. 3, Incident Particulars Report at 549
(stating that PTP’s makes an attempt of clicking on the “submit” button “would have been recorded”
within the system logs). Moreover, because the company explains, when proposals are
uploaded into the system and retained there, ASSIST gives no notifications to the company
of that reality; right here, for instance, the contracting officer was unaware of any of PTP’s
attachments within the ECF previous to being contacted by the protester on October 13.
Company Resp. to Req. for Add’l Briefing at 3.
The file demonstrates that the protester maintained the power to revise its proposal
by importing new, modified attachments, till the second of proposal submission. In
our view, as a result of the ASSIST system permits offerors to revise their proposals till last
submission of proposals, the retention of PTP’s attachments within the ASSIST system doesn’t
represent PTP’s proposal as being underneath the federal government management. See, e.g.,
Johnson Controls Gov’t Sys., LLC, B-411862.2, Nov. 24, 2015, 2015 CPD ¶ 357
at 4. Therefore, we conclude that PTP did not submit its proposal by the
ASSIST portal, which was the one technique of submission designated by the
Electronic mail Submission
The protester additionally argues that PTP well timed submitted its full proposal by way of e mail to
the company’s contracting officers, which PTP contends was an inexpensive alternate
submission technique after experiencing technical difficulties with the ASSIST portal.
Protest at 1. Though PTP acknowledges that the solicitation required
offerors to submit their proposals by ASSIST, PTP asserts that it well timed submitted its
proposal by way of e mail at 4:00 p.m. Based on the protester, the company doesn’t have
“unfettered discretion to reject PTP’s well timed submitted proposal as a result of PTP delivered its
proposal to the Contracting Officers by e mail” fairly than “the popular ASSIST
system.” Feedback and Supp. Protest at 16.
The company responds that “using e mail was by no means recognized within the solicitation as
an alternate technique of proposal submission,” and the RFP approved ASSIST because the unique
technique for proposal submission. MOL at 5, 6. Moreover, GSA factors out that
the e-mail with the PTP proposal was acquired by the contracting officer at 4:01 p.m. and
the contract specialist at 4:09 p.m., and therefore, was late. MOL at 6; AR, Exh. 2, Protester’s
Oct. 13, 2020, Electronic mail at 492; Company Resp. to Supp. Doc Manufacturing at 1; Decl. of
Department Chief, GSA Chief Data Officer at 1.
We agree with the company. As famous above, proposal submissions by way of e mail weren’t
approved by the solicitation. As well as, as mentioned within the earlier part,
PTP’s proposal was not submitted to the federal government workplace designated within the solicitation by
the time specified. Thus, we discover affordable the company’s resolution to not think about
PTP’s emailed proposal right here.
Additional, we discover the protester’s arguments to be unavailing. First,
PTP mistakenly contends that its proposal ought to be
thought of underneath FAR provision
52.215-1(c)(3)(ii)(A)(2), which gives
an exception to the late-is-late rule the place the
company acquired the proposal earlier than award is made, accepting the provide wouldn’t unduly
delay the acquisition, and “[t]right here ‘is [acceptable] proof to
set up that it was acquired on the
Authorities[’s] set up designated for receipt of
[proposals] and was underneath the
Authorities’s management prior tothe time set for
receipt of gives.’”
Protest at 6. By its phrases, nevertheless, the exception doesn’t apply right here as a result of
there isn’t any proof that PTP’s proposal was ever acquired on the authorities workplace
designated within the solicitation or that it was underneath the federal government’s management previous to the
time set for receipt of proposals. That’s, as mentioned above, the proposal was
by no means acquired by the GSA ASSIST on-line portal. RFP at 1.
Moreover, as our Workplace hasstated, this exception
doesn’t apply to digital
submissions; fairly, digital submissions are
ruled by FAR provision
52.215-1(c)(3)(ii)(A)(1),which gives that
an electronically submitted proposal should
be acquired on the preliminary level
of entry to the federal government infrastructure
not later than 5:00 p.m. one
working day previous to the date specified for receipt
See Sea Field, Inc.,
B-291056, Oct. 31, 2002, 2002 CPD ¶
181 at 3; see additionally Airrus Mgmt.
B-416358, Aug. 9, 2018, 2018 CPD ¶ 275 at 3. PTP doesn’t allege that its
proposal was acquired on the preliminary level of entry to the federal government infrastructure earlier than
5:00 p.m. one working day previous to the receipt of proposals. See, typically,
Protest. Accordingly, the exception to
late submitted digital proposals at
FAR provision 52.215-1(c)(3)(ii)(A)(1)
doesn’t present a foundation to maintain the
Systemic Failure of the ASSIST System
Lastly, PTP asserts that even when its proposal right here was late, the company was conscious of a
recognized ASSIST portal time-out challenge that impeded PTP’s proposal submission, which requires
that the company think about PTP’s proposal. Feedback and Supp. Protest at 7. The
protester factors to the steering supplied by the ASSIST helpdesk as proof that these
points have occurred incessantly. Id. at 2. Primarily based upon our evaluate of
the file, we’ve no foundation to conclude that the ASSIST portal skilled a “system
failure” on the day in query.
On the outset, a discovering by our Workplace of a systemic failure of a web based authorities
portal requires greater than occasional malfunctioning of the system. See, e.g.,
S.D.M. Provide, Inc., B-271492, June 26, 1996, 96-1 CPD ¶ 288 (protest sustained due
to the company’s failure to keep up sufficient procedures for receiving quotations
by proposal submission system, resulting in a lack of all of quotations
submitted in response to the solicitation at challenge by proposal submission system,
regardless of a beforehand recognized systemic downside with the system); East West
Analysis Inc., B-239565, B-239566, Aug. 21, 1990, 90-2 CPD ¶ 147 (protest
sustained as a result of an company couldn’t adequately clarify why protester’s proposals had been
repeatedly misplaced); cf. Blue Glacier Mgmt. Group, Inc., B-412897, June 30, 2016, 2016
CPD ¶ 177 at 7-8 (discovering no proof of systemic failure that annoyed protester’s
capacity to submit citation the place a usually functioning system blocked emails that
had been “suspect” and the place 5 different distributors efficiently transmitted well timed
Furthermore, our Workplace requested extra data regarding the working standing of
the ASSIST portal on the day proposals had been due. Particularly, we requested that GSA
handle whether or not every other offeror skilled points with submission of its proposal, and
to supply the date and time of receipt of the opposite six proposals submitted. EPDS,
Dkt. No. 26, Req. for Add’l Briefing at 1.
In response, GSA states that no offeror apart from PTP reported comparable time-out
issues for this procurement, or different technical points. Company Resp. to Req. for
Add’l Briefing at 1-2. The company additionally supplied service desk information for the ASSIST
portal documenting that the one points reported on October 13 had been reported by PTP, and by
the contracting officer, investigating PTP’s claims. Id., Exh. 1 at 1.
Moreover, the company states that 5 of the six proposals had been well timed acquired on
October 13, between 11:31 a.m. and a couple of:33 p.m., whereas one different proposal was acquired the day
earlier than, October 12. Company Resp. to Req. for Add’l Briefing, Exh. 2 at 4-9.
On this file, we see no foundation to conclude that the ASSIST portal suffered a systemic
failure on October 13, or that any challenge with the portal prevented PTP’s well timed submission
of a proposal. See SigNet Techs., Inc., supra at 4-5 (discovering no
systemic failure the place 12 different corporations had been capable of efficiently submit well timed proposals
by the designated company web site). As famous by the company, it was the
protester’s accountability to submit its proposal sufficiently upfront of the time set
for receipt of proposals to make sure correct supply of the proposal and well timed receipt by
the company. Company Resp. to Req. for Add’l Briefing, Exh. 2 at 4.
The file right here exhibits that the opposite offerors began the proposal submission course of
sufficiently properly upfront of the proposal deadline to finish submission of their
proposals. See Company Resp. to Req. for Add’l Briefing, Exh. 2 at 4-9 (displaying
the receipt of different proposals as October 12, at 5:26 p.m., and October 13, at 11:31 a.m.,
1:21 p.m., 1:38 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and a couple of:33 p.m.). In distinction, by its personal admission,
the protester started getting into proposal knowledge round 1:45 p.m. that afternoon and its “last
whole value” calculation was not began till 3:45 p.m., i.e., solely 15 minutes
earlier than the proposal submission deadline. AR, Exh. 5, Protester’s Oct. 14, 2020, Electronic mail
with ASSIST System Logsat 561; see, e.g., Vizocom, B-418246.2, Feb. 14, 2020,
2020 CPD ¶ 72 at 5 (concluding that the protester assumed a danger of late supply of its
proposal when it allowed solely a short while for supply to a authorities
set up). Primarily based upon our evaluate of the file, we discover no foundation to maintain this
In sum, PTP has not proven that its proposal was well timed submitted in accordance with the
solicitation’s necessities. First, the file demonstrates that PTP didn’t submit
its proposal by the strategy for submission designated by the solicitation. Second, the
protester fails to determine that its e mail submission of its proposal falls inside a
acknowledged exception to the late proposal rule. Lastly, primarily based upon our evaluate of the
file, we discover no proof of systemic failure with respect to the web portal
designated by the solicitation for submission of proposals. For these causes, we
subsequently discover no foundation to maintain the protest.
The protest is denied.
Thomas H. Armstrong