GAO Unbothered by Awardee’s Lack of Active SAM Registration; Jade Excavation, Inc., GAO B-419515

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Protest alleging that agency should have rejected awardee’s bid due to lack of an active SAM registration is denied. The awardee did not have an active SAM registration when it submitted its bid. GAO didn’t find this problematic. The requirement that a bidder have an active SAM registration is not material because it does not impact any material obligations; rather, it is a matter concerning responsibility. The agency did not err in waiving the SAM registration requirement. Moreover, the protester was unlikely to materially alter its bid in the face of waived SAM requirement, so it had not been prejudiced by the waiver.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) issued an invitation for bids (IFB) seeking paving work at a recreation area in Oregon. The IFB stated that offerors had to be registered with the System for Award Management (SAM) when submitting a bid.

DOT received bids from Jade Excavation and York Bros Excavation. York submitted the lowest bid. The agency checked SAM and found no registration for York. York explained that it was in the process of updating its SAM registration. A couple of weeks later, DOT confirmed that York was now registered with SAM, and it awarded York the contract.

Jade filed a protest, arguing that the DOT should have rejected York’s bid because the company did not have an active SAM registration at the time of bid submission as required by the IFB.

GAO, however, noted that an agency must afford a bidder an opportunity to cure matters that do not concern material obligations, like price, quantity, quality, or delivery terms. The requirement that a bidder have an active SAM registration is not material to the bid because it does not impact any material obligations; rather, it is a matter concerning the bidder’s responsibility. Thus, the agency did not err when it gave York a chance to cure its SAM registration.

Additionally, GAO opined that Jade had not been prejudiced by DOT’s waiver of the SAM requirement. Minor informalities related to SAM registration do not undermine the validity of an award and are waivable by the agency without prejudice to other bidders. An awardee’s registration status does not implicate the terms of a bid. And it is unlikely another offeror could alter its bid to its competitive advantage in response to a relaxed SAM registration requirement.

Jade is represented by John White. The agency is represented by Milton Hsieh of the Department of Transportation. GAO attorneys Christopher An, Evan Wesser, and Edward Goldstein participated in the preparation of the decision.

GAO - Jade Excavation