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GAO Decision - The Concept of an Acceptance Period does not Apply to Quotations

 

Link to the case:  http://www.gao.gov/products/B-405711.2#mt=e-report

DIGEST (from GAO)

1. The failure of the protester’s quotation to agree to hold its prices firm for 90 days did not render the quotation unacceptable, because the concept of an acceptance period has no application to quotations, which are not offers.

2. An agency unreasonably considered a technically unacceptable, intervening quotation in determining not to apply a Buy American Act preference to the protester’s quotation.

DECISION (from GAO)

Sea Box, Inc., of East Riverton, New Jersey, protests the issuance of a purchase order to Caru Containers, Inc., of Quincy, Massachusetts, under request for quotations (RFQ) No. N00244-11-T-0540, issued by the Naval Supply Systems Command, Department of the Navy, for cargo containers.

We sustain the protest.

Commentary:  The Sea Box case is interesting for many reasons but most importantly because of the following statement by GAO:

"A quotation, on the other hand, is not a submission for acceptance by the government to form a binding contract; rather, vendor quotations are purely informational. Zarc Int’l, Inc., B-292708, Oct. 3, 2003, 2003 CPD ¶ 172 at 2. In the RFQ context, it is the government that makes the offer, albeit generally based on the information provided by the vendor in its quotation, and no binding agreement is created until the vendor accepts the offer. FAR § 13.004(a). A vendor submitting a price quotation therefore could, the next moment, reject an offer from the government at its quoted price. Because vendors in the RFQ context hold the power of acceptance and their submissions are purely informational, there is nothing for vendors to hold open. Thus, we have not applied the acceptance period concept or the attendant rules regarding expiration of bids or offers to RFQs. SeeComputer Assocs. Int’l, Inc.–Recon.supra."
 

This case was about a Part 13 RFQ but I wouldn't be surprised if GAO would rule the same way on a Schedules RFQ.  I think the moral of that story is to avoid acceptance periods in RFQs.  Any other thoughts on this case?  What else might not apply to a Schedules RFQ based on this logic?

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