Yesterday was daylight savings day, which means that you are probably running about your job this morning a little more groggy because you lost an hour of sleep. As I was waffling through emails today in my own groggy state, I received an alert about a new area code being added to the Nashville, Tennessee area.  Naturally, I thought about bid day.

What about bid day? Think about how technology has improved all aspects of the construction industry.  Think about how we deal with electronic drawings. Think about how we communicate between the project site and the home office.  And think about how we transmit proposals on bid day…by fax and email.

But technology does not solve all problems. Sometimes, problems with technology create their own problems.  For example, in Federal Acquisition Services Team, LLC (pdf), B-410466, December 31, 2014, the government contractor challenged an agency’s decision not to consider its proposal that was transmitted by email but had been rejected by the agency’s server. The contractor asserted that its proposal was improperly rejected and it was “bounced back” by the agency’s server for exceeding the applicable size limitation for emails. In the protester’s view, the problem occurred as the result of a “systemic failure” of the agency’s systems, and the agency therefore should consider the proposal.  The GAO denied the protest.

The GAO determined that the proposal was never “actually received” by the agency.  The fact that the proposal was rejected by the agency server was not important because other offerors received the same “bounce back” message and they modified their submissions and resent them.  Finally, there was not sufficient evidence to prove a “systemic failure” with the agency’s servers.

The takeaway.  The real lesson from the Federal Acquisition Services Team decision is to be mindful of potential problems with technology and to plan for those problems.  Here are a few tips:

  • Check your fax machine settings.  With the announcement of the new area code in Nashville, local contractors should make sure to re-program your fax machine numbers to include the full area code. You know have to dial the full ten numbers, whether (615) or (629).  Don’t wait until bid day to check your settings to make sure the fax machine works.
  • Review submission guidelines. When submitting large documents, make sure your proposal can be submitted within the data requirements.  Did you know that a document converted to PDF can be made smaller than a document scanned to PDF?  Make sure you have a back-up plan.
  • Don’t get caught by surprise.  While most of our network cell phones automatically update with the time change, make sure you change all of the phone in your business.  Even this morning, I walked around the office and every manually set phone was running an hour behind.

Let technology help your chances on bid day, not hurt them.