GAO Releases Updated Bid Protest Guide

Coinciding with the May 1, 2018 requirement that GAO bid protests be filed using the new Electronic Protest Docketing System, the GAO has released an updated version of its “Descriptive Guide” to the GAO bid protest process.

This Guide–the tenth edition published by GAO–is packed with useful information and tips about using EPDS and about the protest process in general.

A few EPDS-specific highlights follow.

The GAO reminds readers that “[p]rotests (with the exception of protests containing classified materials) must be filed through [EPDS] in accordance with EPDS instructions.”  Mindful of the strict timeliness rules applicable to GAO bid protests, the GAO wisely advises readers that “[a] protester should be careful to allot sufficient time to set up an account and file the protest in EPDS.”  Especially now, with EPDS mandatory for the first time, it will be imperative for protesters to avoid waiting to the last minute to set up their EPDS accounts.

The GAO says that “EPDS will automatically send the agency e-mail notice advising it that a protest has been filed immediately upon the filing of the protest.”  That notice “is important because it is the official notice that may trigger a statutory stay of the award or performance of a contract pending GAO’s decision.”  However, the GAO reminds readers that “[a]lthough the notice of the filing of a new protest generated by EPDS to the agency may trigger a statutory stay, GAO does not review agency decisions in this regard.”

The GAO informs readers that protest decisions will be “distributed to the parties through EPDS.”  The GAO will continue to publish decisions on its website, however.  Decisions that do not contain protected information are generally available “within 24 hours of the case being closed” and public versions of decisions containing protected information “will be prepared as soon as possible,” with GAO’s goal to issue such decisions “within 2 to 3 weeks after the protected decision is issued.”

The EPDS requirement is a major change in the GAO protest process.  For attorneys, business owners and others interested in the new process–and in learning some more about how GAO protests work in general–the new Descriptive Guide is well worth a read.