Missing Password Doesn’t Sink CIO-SP3 Proposal

A Maryland contractor nearly lost a contract with $20 billion ceiling because of a password protected encrypted document.

After much back and forth, and for somewhat obscure reasons, GAO said that it was unreasonable for the agency to ask for the password and then not use it.

Continue reading

Short Procurement Deadline? GAO says it Doesn’t Impact Protest Timing Rules

As anyone in the federal contracting line of work knows, deadlines come at you fast and hard. In a recent GAO decision, GAO refused to relax the timeliness rules associated with protests of solicitation requirements, even where that left the contractor with very little time to protest.

Continue reading

GAO Sustains Protest after Awardee Credited with Strengths Not Present in its Proposal

Strong working relationships between contractors and contracting officers are a significant asset. For example, the Customs and Border Patrol recently relied heavily on its experience working with the incumbent contractor to “infer” proposed technical approaches and award corresponding strengths. Unfortunately, when this award was subsequently protested, GAO did not agree with the Border Patrol’s inferential technique. As GAO explained, a reviewing agency may not credit a bid with technical strengths that are not present within the proposal.

Continue reading

Option to “Postpone” Required Pre-Award Debriefing Until After Award—Gain Information, But Lose Right to Protest

GAO’s bid protest window for debriefings—which closes 10 days after the required debriefing—knows very few exceptions. But what if the agency offers you a more informative post-award debriefing in place of the pre-award debriefing normally required upon your elimination from the competitive range? This option will likely improve your ability to compete for future contracts with the agency. Shouldn’t you be able to accept it without giving up your right to protest? GAO says no.

Continue reading

GAO Awards Fees, but Only for Obviously Correct Protest Ground

Supposedly, the general rule is that a protester is reimbursed the costs associated with a successful protest—including attorneys’ fees. But, as a recent case shows, that’s often not the case.

In a March decision, GAO recommended award of only a portion of fees associated with bringing a protest, even though GAO agreed that the protest was correct and the awardee should have been found technically unacceptable.

Continue reading

GAO Allows Contracting Officer Discretion to Act as Tie-Breaker

Your company has submitted a proposal for a Lowest-Priced, Technically Acceptable acquisition. To your surprise, you find out another company has submitted a technically acceptable offer with the same price. Equally surprising, the solicitation does not contain any provisions instructing the agency on how to pick from otherwise equal bids. So what is the contracting officer to do – issue an order for a standoff, a la the O.K. Corral? (For the record, we do not advise this as a viable method of conflict resolution.)

Fortunately, GAO encourages a less drastic solution–use of the contracting officer’s reasonable discretion.

Continue reading

Pre-Solicitation Notices not Grounds for Protests, GAO says

Like my alarm clock ringing on Monday mornings, GAO recently reminded protestors that protests based on pre-solicitation notices are just too early.

In F-Star Zaragosa Port, LLC; F-Star Socorro Holding, LLC, B-417414, et al. (Comp. Gen. Apr. 15, 2019), GAO dismissed protests based on pre-solicitation notices as premature.   

Continue reading