Many contractors prepare bids on a computer, using either commercially prepared bid packages or “home grown” spreadsheets using Excel or similar programs, to automatically calculate their bids.  A recent decision by the Comptroller General, however, reveals some of the dangers that these “automatic” packages hold for a contractor.  A bidder on a sewer lagoon project for the Corps of Engineers recently utilized a computer program and contended that an erroneous entry resulted in its bid of $6,881,800 being 25 percent lower than the next competitor’s bid.  The low bidder alleged that it had made a “mistake” in preparing its bid and requested upward correction.  The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) allow upward correction of a bid when the bidder provides clear and convincing evidence of both the existence of a mistake and the bid actually intended, but only where the correction would not result in displacing one or more lower bids. See FAR 14.407-3(a).  The low bidder alleged that a “mistake” occurred because it “overrode” the automatic calculations in the spreadsheet by manually entering a dollar amount in the “total” column for a bid item rather than allowing that total amount to be automatically calculated by the formula in that cell.
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