GAO Jurisdiction Limited to Federal Agency Procurements, Whether or Not Federal Funds Involved

GAO has the authority to oversee bid protests involving many different government agencies. But its jurisdiction has limits, such as that it won’t consider protests of certain activities at the U.S. Mint.

One other limitation is that, when a federal agency provides funding to a non-federal entity and that non-federal entity procures services through competitive award, GAO will not consider a protest of that award. A recent GAO decision confirmed the lack of jurisdiction in a situation involving a competitive procurement by a federally recognized tribe using FEMA grant money.

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GAO Denies Protest Challenging SAM Registration

One of the first things a prospective government contractor (including a joint venture) must do to be eligible for an award is to create a business profile in the System for Award Management (or “SAM”). Before making an award, in fact, the contracting officer is obligated to verify the prospective contractor is registered in SAM.

Not only must a business be registered in SAM, but its registration should be up-to-date. It’s an enduring myth of government contracting that a business’s SAM profile only has to be updated annually. But as FAR 4.1201(b)(1) instructs, an offeror’s SAM profile has to be updated as necessary to ensure that it is “kept current, accurate, and complete.”

What happens if a prospective awardee fails to update its SAM profile? Can a disappointed bidder challenge the basis of the award? The answer, according to GAO, is “it depends.”

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GAO: Agency Closing Time is 4:30 p.m., not 5:00 p.m.

Unless an agency designates different business hours, the FAR says that a government agency is deemed to close at 4:30 p.m. local time–not 5:00 p.m., as it would be easy to assume.

In a recent case, the 4:30 p.m. closing time cost an unsuccessful offeror a chance at a GAO protest because the offeror’s debriefing request, sent to the agency at 4:59 p.m., was deemed untimely.

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GAO: Bid Protests Must Be Timely Received Through EPDS

When it comes to timely filing a bid protest, government contractors should keep one overriding principle in mind: late is late, and it probably won’t matter why the protest wasn’t timely received.

GAO recently reaffirmed this principle when it dismissed a bid protest that wasn’t timely received by its new, mandatory Electronic Protest Docketing System.

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GAO: Agency’s Reevaluation Didn’t Address “Widespread Discrepancies” in Awardee’s Proposal

When an agency reevaluates proposals in response to a protest, the reevaluation must be thorough and reasonable.

In a recent GAO bid protest decision, GAO sustained a protest because the agency’s reevaluation of proposals, undertaken after a protest was sustained, did not reasonably address “widespread discrepancies” in the awardee’s proposal.

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GAO Rejects Innuendo-Based OCI Disqualification

Thinking about hiring an employee of the incumbent contractor for your next bid? If so, make sure to protect yourself from disqualification based on an organizational conflict of interest.

In a recent bid protest by Archimedes’ Global, Inc., the GAO reversed the Government’s decision to exclude Archimedes from consideration for a bid when an alleged OCI was based on mere innuendo and supposition instead of hard facts supported by the record.

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