Contract solicitations generally require that bids and offers remain valid for a specified length of time. When the government does not make award before the specified expiration date, government personnel usually request an extension so that the bids or proposals do not expire. In one recent case, the bid acceptance period for a particular solicitation expired on a Saturday. About one week before the deadline, government personnel contacted the offerors and asked them to extend their proposals. Several offerors extended their proposals before the expiration date. However, one offeror did not notify the government that it was extending its proposal until the following Monday. The contracting agency rejected the extension and declined to consider the proposal for contract award because it considered the proposal to have expired.
The offeror protested the agency’s decision to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). GAO overturned the decision because, even where other offerors extended their proposals as required, there was no prejudice to the other offerors, or to the competitive bidding system, by allowing the expired proposal to be revived. Reviving the proposal on the morning of the first business day following its expiration negated any argument that the offeror compromised the process by avoiding market fluctuations to which other offerors were exposed. (There was no claim that the failure to earlier extend was to avoid market uncertainties.) GAO concluded that the relevant issues were the short length of time that the proposal was expired and the lack of any prejudice to the other offerors during that time. In the circumstances, GAO determined that the agency should accept the revived proposal and consider it for contract award.