Getting an Agency post award Debriefing Before Filing a Bid Protest

An agency post award FAR part 8 debrief occurs when you have participated in bidding for government contracts awards and receive an unsuccessful offeror letter.  In your request,  the Agency should tell you about your proposal and provide you with important feedback.

A common problem occurs when contractors guess incorrectly when they should toll the time to file a bid protest. Most companies are aware of the rule that the deadline to file a bid protest at GAO is typically 10 days. However, landmines await companies who are not sure when a debriefing letter does not stop or postpone the protest filing deadline.

  • Failure to follow the correct rules means that your protest may be untimely and may be dismissed.

The Agency should tell you both the negative and positive about your proposal. Oftentimes, a debriefing can provide insights as to why you received the stated evaluation score from the agency.

  • The purpose of a debriefing is to furnish the basis for the selection decision and contract award. 

Should You Get a Post Award Debriefing under FAR Part 8 or FAR Part 15?

Both as the awardee or unsuccessful offeror, you should promptly ask for a post award debriefing. This is especially true if you receive an unsuccessful offeror letter. You get to learn your strengths and weaknesses and other information about the evaluation process. 

  • You have the opportunity to gather information that will help you to adequately prepare your bid protest letter. 
  • As the awardee, if you receive a debriefing, and the award is protested, you can help your intervenor/defense attorney by the information received at the debriefing.

When to Submit a Request for Debriefing? 

Both pre-award debriefings and Post award debriefings must be submitted to the Contracting Officer in writing. (Sending a Fax with a received receipt is suggested).

  • Pre award debriefings must be made within three days after receipt of the notice to be excluded from competition.
  • Post-award debriefing requests must be submitted within three days after the date on which you received the unsuccessful offeror letter.
  • You should submit your request for a required debriefing no later than 3 days after receiving notice of an adverse action for government contract awards.

Whether you are looking to file a pre award protest or post award protest, if you submit an untimely request for an agency debriefing letter, the agency may or may not choose to provide it to you. See FAR Part 15.505. The debriefing process does not require the government to educate you as to whether you are entitled to a required debriefing of not.

What Can the Government Tell You?

Government’s evaluation of the significant weaknesses or deficiencies

Since a debriefing should be an informal dialogue, contractors are sometimes allowed to ask questions. However, the is a limit to what the government can tell you. The following is a summary of points that should be covered in an agency debriefing.

  • The overall evaluated cost price
  • Technical Rating
  • Past performance
  • Who the successful offeror is and the compared scores between you and the awardee.

What You Will Not Get ?

  • A point-by-point comparison of the awardee’s proposal against yours.
  • A detailed discussion of the Agency’s source selection plan;
  • Opportunity to supplement the information in your proposal.

The reason for the agency debriefing rule is to communicate with the contracting agency and get relevant information early in time to decide whether or not you want to file a GAO bid protest or file in another forum. Remember, it must be a REQUIRED debriefing.

GAO bid Protest will be sustained if the agency provided material information concerning solicitation requirements to a single competitor in a post-award debriefing and then the agency subsequently reopened the competition without providing the other competitors with the same information. See SYMVIONICS, Inc., B-293824.2.

Know When the Agency has Finished Your Post Award FAR Part 15 Debriefing

When you attend a debriefing after a government contracts award, you should pay strong attention to when the agency post award debriefing is actually over. If you receive a written debriefing, see if it actually states that it is concluded. If not, ASK.

  • Waiting for answers to follow-up questions may not continue to toll the ten-day filing requirement.
  • If you mistakenly allowed the GAO filing deadline to lapse, your only option may be to file a Court of Claims bid protest.
  • An example is if after you ask some questions, the Contracting Officer tells you that she will “get back to you.”

This actually occurred in the case of Zafer Constr. Co.; Tourism, Indus. And Trading Co., Inc., B-295903,B-295903.2, 2005 CPD ¶ 87 (Comp. Gen. 2005). The FAR protest after awardwas ruled untimely.

Avoid Three Costly Mistakes

Agency is not responding to you?  If you have requested a post award debriefing and the agency is not getting back to you or is slow on setting the date, you may want to quickly check the solicitation to see whether the solicitation was a negotiated procurement under FAR 15.

  • If the procurement was negotiated under FAR Part 15, then it is more than likely a “required debriefing.”
  • If not under FAR 15, then you may want to play it safe and apply the ten-day protest filing requirement from the date you were aware of the adverse action.
  • Do not think that all requests for debriefings stop the clock for filing a bid protest.

Tip: If you have mistakenly passed the ten-day filing deadline, they may want to consider filing a  Court of Federal Claims Bid Protest.

Tip: Do not defer competitive range debriefings until after award.

Tip: Accept the first available date for an agency debriefing.

To Avoid Costly Mistakes, Get a FREE Bid Protest Checklist

For additional questions about getting an agency pre award protest or post award debriefing under FAR Part 8 and FAR Part 15or filing a protest, call our bid protest lawyers at 1-866-601-5518.

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