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Subpart 14.4—Opening of Bids and Award of Contract

14.400  Scope of subpart.

This subpart contains procedures for the receipt, handling, opening, and disposition of bids including mistakes in bids, and subsequent award of contracts.

14.401  Receipt and safeguarding of bids.

(a) All bids (including modifications) received before the time set for the opening of bids shall be kept secure. Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, the bids shall not be opened or viewed, and shall remain in a locked bid box, a safe, or in a secured, restricted-access electronic bid box. If an invitation for bids is cancelled, bids shall be returned to the bidders. Necessary precautions shall be taken to ensure the security of the bid box or safe. Before bid opening, information concerning the identity and number of bids received shall be made available only to Government employees. Such disclosure shall be only on a “need to know” basis. When bid samples are submitted, they shall be handled with sufficient care to prevent disclosure of characteristics before bid opening.

(b) Envelopes marked as bids but not identifying the bidder or the solicitation may be opened solely for the purpose of identification, and then only by an official designated for this purpose. If a sealed bid is opened by mistake (e.g., because it is not marked as being a bid), the envelope shall be signed by the opener, whose position shall also be written thereon, and delivered to the designated official. This official shall immediately write on the envelope (1) an explanation of the opening, (2) the date and time opened, and (3) the invitation for bids number, and shall sign the envelope. The official shall then immediately reseal the envelope.

14.402  Opening of bids.

14.402-1  Unclassified bids.

(a) The bid opening officer shall decide when the time set for opening bids has arrived and shall inform those present of that decision. The officer shall then (1) personally and publicly open all bids received before that time, (2) if practical, read the bids aloud to the persons present, and (3) have the bids recorded. The original of each bid shall be carefully safeguarded, particularly until the abstract of bids required by 14.403 has been made and its accuracy verified.

(b) Performance of the procedure in paragraph (a) of this section may be delegated to an assistant, but the bid opening officer remains fully responsible for the actions of the assistant.

(c) Examination of bids by interested persons shall be permitted if it does not interfere unduly with the conduct of Government business. Original bids shall not be allowed to pass out of the hands of a Government official unless a duplicate bid is not available for public inspection. The original bid may be examined by the public only under the immediate supervision of a Government official and under conditions that preclude possibility of a substitution, addition, deletion, or alteration in the bid.

14.402-2  Classified bids.

The general public may not attend bid openings for classified acquisitions. A bidder or its representative may attend and record the results if the individual has the appropriate security clearance. The contracting officer also may make the bids available at a later time to properly cleared individuals who represent bidders. No public record shall be made of bids or bid prices received in response to classified invitations for bids.

14.402-3  Postponement of openings.

(a) A bid opening may be postponed even after the time scheduled for bid opening (but otherwise in accordance with 14.208) when—

(1) The contracting officer has reason to believe that the bids of an important segment of bidders have been delayed in the mails, or in the communications system specified for transmission of bids, for causes beyond their control and without their fault or negligence (e.g., flood, fire, accident, weather conditions, strikes, or Government equipment blackout or malfunction when bids are due); or

(2) Emergency or unanticipated events interrupt normal governmental processes so that the conduct of bid opening as scheduled is impractical.

(b) At the time of a determination to postpone a bid opening under paragraph (a)(1) of this section, an announcement of the determination shall be publicly posted. If practical before issuance of a formal amendment of the invitation, the determination shall be otherwise communicated to prospective bidders who are likely to attend the scheduled bid opening.

(c) In the case of paragraph (a)(2) of this section, and when urgent Government requirements preclude amendment of the solicitation as prescribed in 14.208, the time specified for opening of bids will be deemed to be extended to the same time of day specified in the solicitation on the first work day on which normal Government processes resume. In such cases, the time of actual bid opening shall be deemed to be the time set for bid opening for the purpose of determining “late bids” under 14.304. A note should be made on the abstract of bids or otherwise added to the file explaining the circumstances of the postponement.

14.403  Recording of bids.

(a) Standard Form 1409, Abstract of Offers, or Optional Form 1419, Abstract of Offers—Construction (or automated equivalent), shall be completed and certified as to its accuracy by the bid opening officer as soon after bid opening as practicable. Where bid items are too numerous to warrant complete recording of all bids, abstract entries for individual bids may be limited to item numbers and bid prices. In preparing these forms, the extra columns and SF 1410, Abstract of Offers—Continuation, and OF 1419A, Abstract of Offer—Construction, Continuation Sheet, may be used to label and record such information as the contracting activity deems necessary.

(b) Abstracts of offers for unclassified acquisitions shall be available for public inspection. Such abstracts shall not contain information regarding failure to meet minimum standards of responsibility, apparent collusion of bidders, or other notations properly exempt from disclosure to the public in accordance with agency regulations implementing Subpart 24.2.

(c) The forms identified in paragraph (a) of this section need not be used by the Defense Energy Support Center for acquisitions of coal or petroleum products or by the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia for perishable subsistence items.

(d) If an invitation for bids is cancelled before the time set for bid opening, this fact shall be recorded together with a statement of the number of bids invited and the number of bids received.

14.404  Rejection of bids.

14.404-1  Cancellation of invitations after opening.

(a)(1) Preservation of the integrity of the competitive bid system dictates that, after bids have been opened, award must be made to that responsible bidder who submitted the lowest responsive bid, unless there is a compelling reason to reject all bids and cancel the invitation.

(2) Every effort shall be made to anticipate changes in a requirement before the date of opening and to notify all prospective bidders of any resulting modification or cancellation. This will permit bidders to change their bids and prevent unnecessary exposure of bid prices.

(3) As a general rule, after the opening of bids, an invitation should not be cancelled and resolicited due solely to increased requirements for the items being acquired. Award should be made on the initial invitation for bids and the additional quantity should be treated as a new acquisition.

(b) When it is determined before award but after opening that the requirements of 11.201 (relating to the availability and identification of specifications) have not been met, the invitation shall be cancelled.

(c) Invitations may be cancelled and all bids rejected before award but after opening when, consistent with subparagraph (a)(1) of this section, the agency head determines in writing that—

(1) Inadequate or ambiguous specifications were cited in the invitation;

(2) Specifications have been revised;

(3) The supplies or services being contracted for are no longer required;

(4) The invitation did not provide for consideration of all factors of cost to the Government, such as cost of transporting Government-furnished property to bidders’ plants;

(5) Bids received indicate that the needs of the Government can be satisfied by a less expensive article differing from that for which the bids were invited;

(6) All otherwise acceptable bids received are at unreasonable prices, or only one bid is received and the contracting officer cannot determine the reasonableness of the bid price;

(7) The bids were not independently arrived at in open competition, were collusive, or were submitted in bad faith (see Subpart 3.3 for reports to be made to the Department of Justice);

(8) No responsive bid has been received from a responsible bidder;

(9) A cost comparison as prescribed in OMB Circular A-76 and Subpart 7.3 shows that performance by the Government is more economical; or

(10) For other reasons, cancellation is clearly in the public’s interest.

(d) Should administrative difficulties be encountered after bid opening that may delay award beyond bidders’ acceptance periods, the several lowest bidders whose bids have not expired (irrespective of the acceptance period specified in the bid) should be requested, before expiration of their bids, to extend in writing the bid acceptance period (with consent of sureties, if any) in order to avoid the need for resoliciting.

(e) Under some circumstances, completion of the acquisition after cancellation of the invitation for bids may be appropriate.

(1) If the invitation for bids has been cancelled for the reasons specified in subparagraphs (c)(6), (7), or (8) of this subsection, and the agency head has authorized, in the determination in paragraph (c) of this subsection, the completion of the acquisition through negotiation, the contracting officer shall proceed in accordance with paragraph (f) of this subsection.

(2) If the invitation for bids has been cancelled for the reasons specified in subparagraphs (c)(1), (2), (4), (5), or (10) of this subsection, or for the reasons in subparagraphs (c)(6), (7), or (8) of this subsection and completion through negotiation is not authorized under subparagraph (e)(1) of this subsection, the contracting officer shall proceed with a new acquisition.

(f) When the agency head has determined, in accordance with paragraph (e)(1) of this subsection, that an invitation for bids should be canceled and that use of negotiation is in the Government’s interest, the contracting officer may negotiate (in accordance with Part 15, as appropriate) and make award without issuing a new solicitation provided—

(1) Each responsible bidder in the sealed bid acquisition has been given notice that negotiations will be conducted and has been given an opportunity to participate in negotiations; and

(2) The award is made to the responsible bidder offering the lowest negotiated price.

14.404-2  Rejection of individual bids.

(a) Any bid that fails to conform to the essential requirements of the invitation for bids shall be rejected.

(b) Any bid that does not conform to the applicable specifications shall be rejected unless the invitation authorized the submission of alternate bids and the supplies offered as alternates meet the requirements specified in the invitation.

(c) Any bid that fails to conform to the delivery schedule or permissible alternates stated in the invitation shall be rejected.

(d) A bid shall be rejected when the bidder imposes conditions that would modify requirements of the invitation or limit the bidder’s liability to the Government, since to allow the bidder to impose such conditions would be prejudicial to other bidders. For example, bids shall be rejected in which the bidder—

(1) Protects against future changes in conditions, such as increased costs, if total possible costs to the Government cannot be determined;

(2) Fails to state a price and indicates that price shall be “price in effect at time of delivery;”

(3) States a price but qualifies it as being subject to “price in effect at time of delivery;”

(4) When not authorized by the invitation, conditions or qualifies a bid by stipulating that it is to be considered only if, before date of award, the bidder receives (or does not receive) award under a separate solicitation;

(5) Requires that the Government is to determine that the bidder’s product meets applicable Government specifications; or

(6) Limits rights of the Government under any contract clause.

(e) A low bidder may be requested to delete objectionable conditions from a bid provided the conditions do not go to the substance, as distinguished from the form, of the bid, or work an injustice on other bidders. A condition goes to the substance of a bid where it affects price, quantity, quality, or delivery of the items offered.

(f) Any bid may be rejected if the contracting officer determines in writing that it is unreasonable as to price. Unreasonableness of price includes not only the total price of the bid, but the prices for individual line items as well.

(g) Any bid may be rejected if the prices for any line items or subline items are materially unbalanced (see 15.404-1(g)).

(h) Bids received from any person or concern that is suspended, debarred, proposed for debarment or declared ineligible as of the bid opening date shall be rejected unless a compelling reason determination is made (see Subpart 9.4).

(i) Low bids received from concerns determined to be not responsible pursuant to subpart 9.1 shall be rejected (but if a bidder is a small business concern, see 19.6 with respect to certificates of competency).

(j) When a bid guarantee is required and a bidder fails to furnish the guarantee in accordance with the requirements of the invitation for bids, the bid shall be rejected, except as otherwise provided in 28.101-4.

(k) The originals of all rejected bids, and any written findings with respect to such rejections, shall be preserved with the papers relating to the acquisition.

(l) After submitting a bid, if all of a bidder’s assets or that part related to the bid are transferred during the period between the bid opening and the award, the transferee may not be able to take over the bid. Accordingly, the contracting officer shall reject the bid unless the transfer is effected by merger, operation of law, or other means not barred by 41 U.S.C. 6305 or 31 U.S.C. 3727.

14.404-3  Notice to bidders of rejection of all bids.

When it is determined necessary to reject all bids, the contracting officer shall notify each bidder that all bids have been rejected and shall state the reason for such action.

14.404-4  Restrictions on disclosure of descriptive literature.

When a bid is accompanied by descriptive literature (as defined in 2.101), and the bidder imposes a restriction that prevents the public disclosure of such literature, the restriction may render the bid nonresponsive. The restriction renders the bid nonresponsive if it prohibits the disclosure of sufficient information to permit competing bidders to know the essential nature and type of the products offered or those elements of the bid that relate to quantity, price, and delivery terms. The provisions of this paragraph do not apply to unsolicited descriptive literature submitted by a bidder if such literature does not qualify the bid (see 14.202-5(e)).

14.404-5  All or none qualifications.

Unless the solicitation provides otherwise, a bid may be responsive notwithstanding that the bidder specifies that award will be accepted only on all, or a specified group, of the items. Bidders shall not be permitted to withdraw or modify “all or none” qualifications after bid opening since such qualifications are substantive and affect the rights of other bidders.

14.405  Minor informalities or irregularities in bids.

A minor informality or irregularity is one that is merely a matter of form and not of substance. It also pertains to some immaterial defect in a bid or variation of a bid from the exact requirements of the invitation that can be corrected or waived without being prejudicial to other bidders. The defect or variation is immaterial when the effect on price, quantity, quality, or delivery is negligible when contrasted with the total cost or scope of the supplies or services being acquired. The contracting officer either shall give the bidder an opportunity to cure any deficiency resulting from a minor informality or irregularity in a bid or waive the deficiency, whichever is to the advantage of the Government. Examples of minor informalities or irregularities include failure of a bidder to—

(a) Return the number of copies of signed bids required by the invitation;

(b) Furnish required information concerning the number of its employees;

(c) Sign its bid, but only if—

(1) The unsigned bid is accompanied by other material indicating the bidder’s intention to be bound by the unsigned bid (such as the submission of a bid guarantee or a letter signed by the bidder, with the bid, referring to and clearly identifying the bid itself); or

(2) The firm submitting a bid has formally adopted or authorized, before the date set for opening of bids, the execution of documents by typewritten, printed, or stamped signature and submits evidence of such authorization and the bid carries such a signature;

(d) Acknowledge receipt of an amendment to an invitation for bids, but only if—

(1) The bid received clearly indicates that the bidder received the amendment, such as where the amendment added another item to the invitation and the bidder submitted a bid on the item; or

(2) The amendment involves only a matter of form or has either no effect or merely a negligible effect on price, quantity, quality, or delivery of the item bid upon; and

(e) Execute the representations with respect to Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Programs, as set forth in the clauses at 52.222-22, Previous Contracts and Compliance Reports, and 52.222-25, Affirmative Action Compliance.

14.406  Receipt of an unreadable electronic bid.

If a bid received at the Government facility by electronic data interchange is unreadable to the degree that conformance to the essential requirements of the invitation for bids cannot be ascertained, the contracting officer immediately shall notify the bidder that the bid will be rejected unless the bidder provides clear and convincing evidence—

(a) Of the content of the bid as originally submitted; and

(b) That the unreadable condition of the bid was caused by Government software or hardware error, malfunction, or other Government mishandling.

14.407  Mistakes in bids.

14.407-1  General.

After the opening of bids, contracting officers shall examine all bids for mistakes. In cases of apparent mistakes and in cases where the contracting officer has reason to believe that a mistake may have been made, the contracting officer shall request from the bidder a verification of the bid, calling attention to the suspected mistake. If the bidder alleges a mistake, the matter shall be processed in accordance with this section 14.407. Such actions shall be taken before award.

14.407-2  Apparent clerical mistakes.

(a) Any clerical mistake, apparent on its face in the bid, may be corrected by the contracting officer before award. The contracting officer first shall obtain from the bidder a verification of the bid intended. Examples of apparent mistakes are—

(1) Obvious misplacement of a decimal point;

(2) Obviously incorrect discounts (for example, 1 percent 10 days, 2 percent 20 days, 5 percent 30 days);

(3) Obvious reversal of the price f.o.b. destination and price f.o.b. origin; and

(4) Obvious mistake in designation of unit.

(b) Correction of the bid shall be effected by attaching the verification to the original bid and a copy of the verification to the duplicate bid. Correction shall not be made on the face of the bid; however, it shall be reflected in the award document.

(c) Correction of bids submitted by electronic data interchange shall be effected by including in the electronic solicitation file the original bid, the verification request, and the bid verification.

14.407-3  Other mistakes disclosed before award.

In order to minimize delays in contract awards, administrative determinations may be made as described in this 14.407-3 in connection with mistakes in bids alleged after opening of bids and before award. The authority to permit correction of bids is limited to bids that, as submitted, are responsive to the invitation and may not be used to permit correction of bids to make them responsive. This authority is in addition to that in 14.407-2 or that may be otherwise available.

(a) If a bidder requests permission to correct a mistake and clear and convincing evidence establishes both the existence of the mistake and the bid actually intended, the agency head may make a determination permitting the bidder to correct the mistake; provided, that if this correction would result in displacing one or more lower bids, such a determination shall not be made unless the existence of the mistake and the bid actually intended are ascertainable substantially from the invitation and the bid itself.

(b) If—

(1) A bidder requests permission to withdraw a bid rather than correct it;

(2) The evidence is clear and convincing both as to the existence of a mistake and as to the bid actually intended; and

(3) The bid, both as uncorrected and as corrected, is the lowest received, the agency head may make a determination to correct the bid and not permit its withdrawal.

(c) If, under paragraph (a) or (b) of this subsection, (1) the evidence of a mistake is clear and convincing only as to the mistake but not as to the intended bid, or (2) the evidence reasonably supports the existence of a mistake but is not clear and convincing, an official above the contracting officer, unless otherwise provided by agency procedures, may make a determination permitting the bidder to withdraw the bid.

(d) If the evidence does not warrant a determination under paragraph (a), (b), or (c) of this section, the agency head may make a determination that the bid be neither withdrawn nor corrected.

(e) Heads of agencies may delegate their authority to make the determinations under paragraphs (a), (b), (c), and (d) of this 14.407-3 to a central authority, or a limited number of authorities as necessary, in their agencies, without power of redelegation.

(f) Each proposed determination shall have the concurrence of legal counsel within the agency concerned before issuance.

(g) Suspected or alleged mistakes in bids shall be processed as follows. A mere statement by the administrative officials that they are satisfied that an error was made is insufficient.

(1) The contracting officer shall immediately request the bidder to verify the bid. Action taken to verify bids must be sufficient to reasonably assure the contracting officer that the bid as confirmed is without error, or to elicit the allegation of a mistake by the bidder. To assure that the bidder will be put on notice of a mistake suspected by the contracting officer, the bidder should be advised as appropriate—

(i) That its bid is so much lower than the other bids or the Government’s estimate as to indicate a possibility of error;

(ii) Of important or unusual characteristics of the specifications;

(iii) Of changes in requirements from previous purchases of a similar item; or

(iv) Of any other information, proper for disclosure, that leads the contracting officer to believe that there is a mistake in bid.

(2) If the bid is verified, the contracting officer shall consider the bid as originally submitted. If the time for acceptance of bids is likely to expire before a decision can be made, the contracting officer shall request all bidders whose bids may become eligible for award to extend the time for acceptance of their bids in accordance with 14.404-1(d). If the bidder whose bid is believed erroneous does not (or cannot) grant an extension of time, the bid shall be considered as originally submitted (but see paragraph (g)(5) of this section). If the bidder alleges a mistake, the contracting officer shall advise the bidder to make a written request to withdraw or modify the bid. The request must be supported by statements (sworn statements, if possible) and shall include all pertinent evidence such as the bidder’s file copy of the bid, the original worksheets and other data used in preparing the bid, subcontractors’ quotations, if any, published price lists, and any other evidence that establishes the existence of the error, the manner in which it occurred, and the bid actually intended.

(3) When the bidder furnishes evidence supporting an alleged mistake, the contracting officer shall refer the case to the appropriate authority (see paragraph (e) of this section) together with the following data:

(i) A signed copy of the bid involved.

(ii) A copy of the invitation for bids and any specifications or drawings relevant to the alleged mistake.

(iii) An abstract or record of the bids received.

(iv) The written request by the bidder to withdraw or modify the bid, together with the bidder’s written statement and supporting evidence.

(v) A written statement by the contracting officer setting forth—

(A) A description of the supplies or services involved;

(B) The expiration date of the bid in question and of the other bids submitted;

(C) Specific information as to how and when the mistake was alleged;

(D) A summary of the evidence submitted by the bidder;

(E) In the event only one bid was received, a quotation of the most recent contract price for the supplies or services involved or, in the absence of a recent comparable contract, the contracting officer’s estimate of a fair price for the supplies or services;

(F) Any additional pertinent evidence; and

(G) A recommendation that either the bid be considered for award in the form submitted, or the bidder be authorized to withdraw or modify the bid.

(4) When time is of the essence because of the expiration of bids or otherwise, the contracting officer may refer the case by telegraph or telephone to the appropriate authority. Ordinarily, the contracting officer will not refer mistake in bid cases by telegraph or telephone to the appropriate authority when the determination set forth in paragraphs (a) or (b) of this section is applicable, since actual examination is generally necessary to determine whether the evidence presented is clear and convincing.

(5) Where the bidder fails or refuses to furnish evidence in support of a suspected or alleged mistake, the contracting officer shall consider the bid as submitted unless (i) the amount of the bid is so far out of line with the amounts of other bids received, or with the amount estimated by the agency or determined by the contracting officer to be reasonable, or (ii) there are other indications of error so clear, as to reasonably justify the conclusion that acceptance of the bid would be unfair to the bidder or to other bona fide bidders. Attempts made to obtain the information required and the action taken with respect to the bid shall be fully documented.

(h) Each agency shall maintain records of all determinations made in accordance with this subsection 14.407-3, the facts involved, and the action taken in each case. Copies of all such determinations shall be included in the file.

(i) Nothing contained in this subsection 14.407-3 prevents an agency from submitting doubtful cases to the Comptroller General for advance decision.

14.407-4  Mistakes after award.

If a contractor’s discovery and request for correction of a mistake in bid is not made until after the award, it shall be processed under the procedures of Subpart 33.2 and the following:

(a) When a mistake in a contractor’s bid is not discovered until after award, the mistake may be corrected by contract modification if correcting the mistake would be favorable to the Government without changing the essential requirements of the specifications.

(b) In addition to the cases contemplated in paragraph (a) of this section or as otherwise authorized by law, agencies are authorized to make a determination—

(1) To rescind a contract;

(2) To reform a contract—

(i) To delete the items involved in the mistake; or

(ii) To increase the price if the contract price, as corrected, does not exceed that of the next lowest acceptable bid under the original invitation for bids; or

(3) That no change shall be made in the contract as awarded, if the evidence does not warrant a determination under subparagraph (b)(1) or (2) of this section.

(c) Determinations under paragraph (b)(1) and (2) of this section may be made only on the basis of clear and convincing evidence that a mistake in bid was made. In addition, it must be clear that the mistake was—

(1) Mutual; or

(2) If unilaterally made by the contractor, so apparent as to have charged the contracting officer with notice of the probability of the mistake.

(d) Each proposed determination shall be coordinated with legal counsel in accordance with agency procedures.

(e) Mistakes alleged or disclosed after award shall be processed as follows:

(1) The contracting officer shall request the contractor to support the alleged mistake by submission of written statements and pertinent evidence, such as—

(i) The contractor’s file copy of the bid,

(ii) The contractor’s original worksheets and other data used in preparing the bid,

(iii) Subcontractors’ and suppliers’ quotations, if any,

(iv) Published price lists, and

(v) Any other evidence that will serve to establish the mistake, the manner in which the mistake occurred, and the bid actually intended.

(2) The case file concerning an alleged mistake shall contain the following:

(i) All evidence furnished by the contractor in support of the alleged mistake.

(ii) A signed statement by the contracting officer—

(A) Describing the supplies or services involved;

(B) Specifying how and when the mistake was alleged or disclosed;

(C) Summarizing the evidence submitted by the contractor and any additional evidence considered pertinent;

(D) Quoting, in cases where only one bid was received, the most recent contract price for the supplies or services involved, or in the absence of a recent comparable contract, the contracting officer’s estimate of a fair price for the supplies or services and the basis for the estimate;

(E) Setting forth the contracting officer’s opinion whether a bona fide mistake was made and whether the contracting officer was, or should have been, on constructive notice of the mistake before the award, together with the reasons for, or data in support of, such opinion;

(F) Setting forth the course of action with respect to the alleged mistake that the contracting officer considers proper on the basis of the evidence, and if other than a change in contract price is recommended, the manner by which the supplies or services will otherwise be acquired; and

(G) Disclosing the status of performance and payments under the contract, including contemplated performance and payments.

(iii) A signed copy of the bid involved.

(iv) A copy of the invitation for bids and any specifications or drawings relevant to the alleged mistake.

(v) An abstract of written record of the bids received.

(vi) A written request by the contractor to reform or rescind the contract, and copies of all other relevant correspondence between the contracting officer and the contractor concerning the alleged mistake.

(vii) A copy of the contract and any related change orders or supplemental agreements.

(f) Each agency shall include in the contract file a record of—

(1) All determinations made in accordance with this 14.407-4;

(2) The facts involved; and

(3) The action taken in each case.

14.408  Award.

14.408-1  General.

(a) The contracting officer shall make a contract award (1) by written or electronic notice, (2) within the time for acceptance specified in the bid or an extension (see 14.404-1(d)), and (3) to that responsible bidder whose bid, conforming to the invitation, will be most advantageous to the Government, considering only price and the price-related factors (see 14.201-8) included in the invitation. Award shall not be made until all required approvals have been obtained and the award otherwise conforms with 14.103-2.

(b) If less than three bids have been received, the contracting officer shall examine the situation to ascertain the reasons for the small number of responses. Award shall be made notwithstanding the limited number of bids. However, the contracting officer shall initiate, if appropriate, corrective action to increase competition in future solicitations for the same or similar items, and include a notation of such action in the records of the invitation for bids (see 14.204).

(c)(1) Award shall be made by mailing or otherwise furnishing a properly executed award document to the successful bidder.

(2) When a notice of award is issued, it shall be followed as soon as possible by the formal award.

(3) When more than one award results from any single invitation for bids, separate award documents shall be suitably numbered and executed.

(4) When an award is made to a bidder for less than all of the items that may be awarded to that bidder and additional items are being withheld for subsequent award, the award shall state that the Government may make subsequent awards on those additional items within the bid acceptance period.

(5) All provisions of the invitation for bids, including any acceptable additions or changes made by a bidder in the bid, shall be clearly and accurately set forth (either expressly or by reference) in the award document. The award is an acceptance of the bid, and the bid and the award constitute the contract.

(d)(1) Award is generally made by using the Award portion of Standard Form (SF) 33, Solicitation, Offer, and Award, or SF 1447, Solicitation/Contract (see 53.214). If an offer from a SF 33 leads to further changes, the resulting contract shall be prepared as a bilateral document on SF 26, Award/Contract.

(2) Use of the Award portion of SF 33, SF 26, or SF 1447, does not preclude the additional use of informal documents, including telegrams or electronic transmissions, as notices of awards.

14.408-2  Responsible bidder—reasonableness of price.

(a) The contracting officer shall determine that a prospective contractor is responsible (see Subpart 9.1) and that the prices offered are reasonable before awarding the contract. The price analysis techniques in 15.404-1(b) may be used as guidelines. In each case the determination shall be made in the light of all prevailing circumstances. Particular care must be taken in cases where only a single bid is received.

(b) The price analysis shall consider whether bids are materially unbalanced (see 15.404-1(g)).

14.408-3  Prompt payment discounts.

(a) Prompt payment discounts shall not be considered in the evaluation of bids. However, any discount offered will form a part of the award, and will be taken by the payment center if payment is made within the discount period specified by the bidder. As an alternative to indicating a discount in conjunction with the offer, bidders may prefer to offer discounts on individual invoices.

(b) See 32.111(b)(1), which prescribes the contract clause at 52.232-8, Discounts for Prompt Payment.

14.408-4  Economic price adjustment.

(a) Bidder proposes economic price adjustment.

(1) When a solicitation does not contain an economic price adjustment clause but a bidder proposes one with a ceiling that the price will not exceed, the bid shall be evaluated on the basis of the maximum possible economic price adjustment of the quoted base price.

(2) If the bid is eligible for award, the contracting officer shall request the bidder to agree to the inclusion in the award of an approved economic price adjustment clause (see 16.203) that is subject to the same ceiling. If the bidder will not agree to an approved clause, the award may be made on the basis of the bid as originally submitted.

(3) Bids that contain economic price adjustments with no ceiling shall be rejected unless a clear basis for evaluation exists.

(b) Government proposes economic price adjustment.

(1) When an invitation contains an economic price adjustment clause and no bidder takes exception to the provisions, bids shall be evaluated on the basis of the quoted prices without the allowable economic price adjustment being added.

(2) When a bidder increases the maximum percentage of economic price adjustment stipulated in the invitation or limits the downward economic price adjustment provisions of the invitation, the bid shall be rejected as nonresponsive.

(3) When a bid indicates deletion of the economic price adjustment clause, the bid shall be rejected as nonresponsive since the downward economic price adjustment provisions are thereby limited.

(4) When a bidder decreases the maximum percentage of economic price adjustment stipulated in the invitation, the bid shall be evaluated at the base price on an equal basis with bids that do not reduce the stipulated ceiling. However, after evaluation, if the bidder offering the lower ceiling is in a position to receive the award, the award shall reflect the lower ceiling.

14.408-5  [Reserved]

14.408-6  Equal low bids.

(a) Contracts shall be awarded in the following order of priority when two or more low bids are equal in all respects:

(1) Small business concerns that are also labor surplus area concerns.

(2) Other small business concerns.

(3) Other business concerns.

(b) If two or more bidders still remain equally eligible after application of paragraph (a) of this section, award shall be made by a drawing by lot limited to those bidders. If time permits, the bidders involved shall be given an opportunity to attend the drawing. The drawing shall be witnessed by at least three persons, and the contract file shall contain the names and addresses of the witnesses and the person supervising the drawing.

(c) When an award is to be made by using the priorities under this 14.408-6, the contracting officer shall include a written agreement in the contract that the contractor will perform, or cause to be performed, the contract in accordance with the circumstances justifying the priority used to break the tie or select bids for a drawing by lot.

14.408-7  Documentation of award.

(a) The contracting officer shall document compliance with 14.103-2 in the contract file.

(b) The documentation shall either state that the accepted bid was the lowest bid received, or list all lower bids with reasons for their rejection in sufficient detail to justify the award.

(c) When an award is made after receipt of equal low bids, the documentation shall describe how the tie was broken.

14.408-8  Protests against award.

(See Subpart 33.1, Protests.)

14.409  Information to bidders.

14.409-1  Award of unclassified contracts.

(a)(1) The contracting officer shall as a minimum (subject to any restrictions in Subpart 9.4)—

(i) Notify each unsuccessful bidder in writing or electronically within three days after contract award, that its bid was not accepted. “Day,” for purposes of the notification process, means calendar day, except that the period will run until a day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday;

(ii) Extend appreciation for the interest the unsuccessful bidder has shown in submitting a bid; and

(iii) When award is made to other than a low bidder, state the reason for rejection in the notice to each of the unsuccessful low bidders.

(2) For acquisitions covered by the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement or a Free Trade Agreement (see 25.408(a)(5)), agencies must include in notices given unsuccessful bidders from World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement or Free Trade Agreement countries—

(i) The dollar amount of the successful bid; and

(ii) The name and address of the successful bidder.

(b) Information included in paragraph (a)(2) of this subsection shall be provided to any unsuccessful bidder upon request except when multiple awards have been made and furnishing information on the successful bids would require so much work as to interfere with normal operations of the contracting office. In such circumstances, only information concerning location of the abstract of offers need be given.

(c) When a request is received concerning an unclassified invitation from an inquirer who is neither a bidder nor a representative of a bidder, the contracting officer should make every effort to furnish the names of successful bidders and, if requested, the prices at which awards were made. However, when such requests require so much work as to interfere with the normal operations of the contracting office, the inquirer will be advised where a copy of the abstract of offers may be seen.

(d) Requests for records shall be governed by agency regulations implementing Subpart 24.2.

14.409-2  Award of classified contracts.

In addition to 14.409-1, if classified information was furnished or created in connection with the solicitation, the contracting officer shall advise the unsuccessful bidders, including any who did not bid, to take disposition action in accordance with agency procedures. The name of the successful bidder and the contract price will be furnished to unsuccessful bidders only upon request. Information regarding a classified award shall not be furnished by telephone.


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