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Government Contracts Monitor

If You Forget Your Name, It May Be Enough To Know Your CAGE Code and DUNS Number

September 28, 2015

By: Lindsay Simmons

Raymond Express International, LLC protested the award to MPG West, LLC as improper because it was made to an entity that Raymond alleged does not legally exist, Parma Fruit MPG West. Uncertainty as to the identity of an offeror renders an offer technically unacceptable, since ambiguity as to an offeror’s identity could result in there being no party bound to perform the obligations of the contract.  Here, however, despite the MPG’s considerable missteps (including use of the wrong name throughout its proposal), MPG was able to escape unscathed because the contracting officer correctly identified the legal entity that is bound to perform the contract by listing the correct CAGE code and the DUNS number that appeared in MPG’s proposal.  Raymond Express International, LLC, B-409872.3, September 11, 2015

The award document signed by the contracting officer lists the awardee as “Parma Fruit MPG West,” rather than MPG West, LLC, and lists an address that is not MPG’s address. According to Raymond, no entity named Parma Fruit MPG West is registered in the System for Award Management (SAM), and there is no commercial and government entity (CAGE) code or data universal numbering system (DUNS) number associated with that name. And that’s not all.  The state corporate records show that no entity is registered under the name Parma Fruit MPG West.  And MPG’s proposal did not refer to the offering entity as MPG West, LLC, but instead used names such as “Parma Fruit MPG West, LLC,” “Parma Fruit MPG West,” and “parma fruit MPGwest - GLOBAL.”

The agency argues that the award document lists the CAGE code and DUNS number of MPG West, LLC (as opposed to Parma Fruit MPG West or any other entity), and that the reference to “Parma Fruit MPG West” is a clerical error that can easily be corrected.  In addition, only the CAGE code and DUNS number for MPG West LLC appeared in MPG’s proposal.  In short it was clear to the Contracting Officer that MPG West, LLC was the offeror and the awardee.

Indeed, prior to the award determination, the agency accessed the SAM database page that confirms that the CAGE code and DUNS number listed in MPG’s proposal are registered to MPG West, LLC.

As GAO pointed out, “As a general matter, the entity awarded the contract should be the entity that submitted the initial proposal.”  However, and in this regard, CAGE codes are assigned to business entities and are used to dispositively establish the identity of a legal entity for contractual purposes. Similarly, DUNS numbers are established by Dunn & Bradstreet Information Services for purposes of establishing the precise identification of an offeror or contractor. CAGE codes and DUNS numbers are used to identify the entity that is the offeror for a given procurement.

Here, Raymond did not establish an ambiguity regarding MPG’s identity. While GAO found that “MPG’s proposal referred to the offering entity using various … names, the record reflects that the proposal listed only one CAGE code and only one DUNS number: those of MPG West, LLC.”  And although the award document lists the wrong name and address for the awardee, “it identifies the legal entity that is bound to perform the contractual obligations by listing the only CAGE code and the only DUNS number that appeared in the proposal”.  Significantly, the contracting officer stated on the record that MPG West, LLC was understood to be the intended offeror. Given these circumstances, GAO found the record “sufficiently clear to show that MPG West, LLC was the offeror and the awardee, and that MPG West, LLC is bound by the obligations of the contract.”

Lindsay Simmons is responsible for the contents of this Article.
© Jackson Kelly PLLC 2015

 

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