A recent size appeal at the Small Business Administration (SBA) serves as a good reminder to government contractors to verify actual receipt of email appeals or risk having their protest dismissed as untimely. The SBA recently dismissed a size appeal for this very reason. Size Appeal of Supplies Now, Inc., SBA No. SIZ 5655 (2015) involved a set-aside procurement for office supplies. Supplies Now, Inc. filed an initial size protest against EZ Print Supplies that was deemed untimely and dismissed at the SBA. After receipt of the initial size determination on February 3, 2015, Supplies Now submitted its appeal the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) via email on February 18, 2015. The SBA rules require a size protest appeal be filed within 15 business days after size notification. While the appeal was sent within the 15 day time period, OHA never actually received the appeal. In order for an appeal to be considered “filed” it must actually be received by OHA. Furthermore, Supplies Now, waited weeks to contact OHA after receiving no response during that period. An acknowledgement from the email system was deemed insufficient. SBA reiterated that an appeal is not considered filed until it is actually received, and while email is a permissive method of delivery, “the sender is responsible for ensuring a successful, virus-free transmission.” For those reasons OHA dismissed the appeal as untimely.
This case serves as an important reminder to those who wish to file a size protest or size appeal via email. Given OHA has no discretion to extend or waive the deadline, it is imperative to ensure your appeal is actually received. In the Supplies Now decision, OHA even encourages senders to contact OHA to verify receipt.