In addition to overseeing the procurement process, the bid protest process at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) oversees how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. Among other duties, the GAO fulfills this role by investigating allegations of improper actions in solicitations for goods and services and in awards of federal government contracts.
A bid protest is a challenge to the award or the terms of a solicitation of a contract for procurement of goods and/or services. At GAO, bid protests can be filed against procurement actions by federal government agencies. Bid protests are commonplace in government contracts.
If your company is awarded a contract and a protest is filed then, as the awardee, you have the option to exercise your right to partake in the protest proceedings – to intervene – as an “intervenor.”
In GAO protests, specific filing requirements must be met and short filing deadlines apply. A critical requirement of a bid protest is that the party filing the GAO protest must satisfy the threshold legal standard as an interested party. As recent as February of 2014, several protestors filed the issuance of a task order to Lockheed Martin, and despite having filed a bid protest order, the court still found that the protestor did not meet the requirements of an interested party.
Understanding the threshold requirements of a bid protest, such as satisfying the interested party standard as a protestor is a critical, yet bare minimum aspect of filing a GAO bid protest, particularly where there are complex aspects at issue. For example, GAO protests may concern issues about past performance and/or whether a particular submission meets the technical requirements of a solicitation. For further discussion regarding technical aspects of bid proposals and disputing an agency’s review of the technical aspects of a proposal, take a look at the following articles:
- GAO Technical Evaluation Criteria Protest Evaluator Scoring of Proposals
- GAO Protest Technical Proposal Risk Evaluation
- Technical Proposal Writing For Government Contracts Protests
- Lowest Price Technically Acceptable FAR LPTA Bid Protest
Recently, in January 2014, the GAO sustained a bid protest of a contract award by the Department of Defense where the record did not demonstrate that the agency’s evaluation was reasonable and the record did not support the agency’s explanation for its assessment of the merits of the proposal. The number of GAO bid protests in 2013 was 2,429, down 2% from the prior fiscal year, 2012. Of those protests, only 17% of all protests were sustained.
Having a full understanding of the GAO bid protest process and the specifics parties must adhere to within that process allows the Government Accountability Office to focus on the merits of a bid protest rather than have a protest dismissed for failure to meet minimum legal requirements, such as reviewing the agency’s technical evaluation as mentioned above or evaluating whether the contracting officer properly made a realism and reasonableness analysis and sufficiently documented the rationale behind the decision.
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For counsel with your bid protest, our team of experienced Government Contracts Attorneys and GAO Bid Protest Lawyers can help. Contact us online or call the law firm of Watson & Associates toll free at (866) 601-5518 or 202-827-9750.