Government contractors must be registered in the System for Award Management (SAM) and complete required representations and certifications annually. FAR 52.204-7 also requires bidders, with some limited exceptions, to be registered in SAM at the time of bid and to continue to be registered until time of award, during performance, and through final payment. Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) addressed the issue of whether a bidder’s failure to have an active registration in SAM at time of bid renders the bid “nonresponsive” and ineligible for award in Master Pavement Line Corp., B-419111 (Dec. 16, 2020).
In Master Pavement Line Corp., GAO concluded that the failure to be registered in SAM and to complete the annual representations and certifications was a matter of contractor responsibility and not bid responsiveness and that such a defect did not impact the responsiveness of the bid. As a result, FAR 14.405 required the procuring agency to give the bidder the opportunity to cure the defect. While GAO concluded that the failure to be registered in SAM does not render a bid nonresponsive, this does not mean that a bidder should wait to register in SAM. GAO also indicated that SAM registration and the completion of the representations and certifications was still a matter of contractor “responsibility.” In addition to examining bid responsiveness, under FAR 9.104-1, the federal government is required to determine if a contractor is responsible prior to award. Therefore, an agency could still theoretically find a contractor nonresponsible for failing to properly register in SAM and deem the contractor ineligible for award.
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