Bean Dredging Corp. v. United States

In Bean Dredging Corp. v. United States, 22 Cl. Ct. 519 (1991), the award of a dredging contract to the lowest bidder was challenged as being nonresponsive because the bid failed to include a schedule listing the plant and equipment to be used for the contract project. The claims court explained: Responsiveness addresses whether a bidder has promised to perform in the precise manner requested by the government. To be considered for an award a bid must comply in all material respects with the invitation for bids. A responsive bid is one that, if accepted by the government as submitted, will obligate the contractor to perform the exact thing called for in the solicitation. If there is material nonconformity in a bid, it must be rejected. Material nonconformity goes to the substance of the bid which affects the price, quality, quantity, or delivery of the article or service offered. Responsibility addresses the issue of the performance capability of a bidder, which can include inquiries into financial resources, experience, management, past performance, place of performance, and integrity. In contrast to responsiveness, a bidder may present evidence of responsibility after bid opening up until the time of award. In terms of identifying whether a particular requirement is related to responsiveness or responsibility, the distinction is whether the bidder will conform to the IFB, as opposed to how the bidder will accomplish conformance. Stated another way, the concept of responsibility specifically concerns the question of a bidder's performance capability, as opposed to its promise to perform the contract, which is a matter of responsiveness. (Id. at 522-23.)