DoD Bid Protests Are “Exceedingly Uncommon,” New Study Finds

Only a very small percentage of DoD contracts–0.3 percent, to be precise–are protested, according to a comprehensive and fascinating new report on bid protests issued by the RAND Corporation.

The detailed report, which was prepared at the behest of Congress, concludes that DoD bid protests are “exceedingly uncommon,” and typically aren’t frivolous.  RAND’s analysts urge policymakers to carefully consider the data when evaluating whether reforms to the bid protest process are necessary–and to “avoid drawing overall conclusions or assumptions about trends from one case when it comes to the efficacy of the bid protest system.”

Amen to that.

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2018 NDAA Bans Some LPTA Procurements

In 2017, Congress placed limits on the utilization of Lowest-Price Technically-Acceptable procurement procedures in Department of Defense acquisitions.

The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act continues this trend by completely prohibiting the use of LPTA procedures for certain major defense acquisition programs.

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2018 NDAA Increases Civilian Micro-Purchase Threshold to $10,000

The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has generated lots of headlines regarding the so-called “Amazon amendment” and the Act’s prohibition on the Russian IT company Kaspersky Labs products. But gone under reported is a huge change to how the government makes small purchases.

The 2018 NDAA, signed by President Donald Trump on December 12, increases the standard micro-purchase threshold applicable to civilian agencies from $3,000 to $10,000. Last year, the NDAA increased the Department of Defense (DoD) micro-purchase threshold to $5,000. This larger jump for civilian agencies is likely to have large impact on government purchasing.

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GAO Says “No” to Air Force Buying Employees Sporks

The U.S. Air Force cannot buy sporks, at least not in many situations.

One would think that the recently passed $700 billion defense bill would provide a little wiggle room for the military to buy paper plates and utensils for its civilian contractors, but, according to the GAO, that is not necessarily the case.

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2018 NDAA: Congress Enacts Changes to DoD Debriefings

Almost a year ago, we wrote of a memorandum from the Office of Federal Procurement Policy urging agencies to strengthen the debriefing process. OFPP’s rationale was simple: because effective debriefings tend to reduce the number of protests, agencies should be inclined to enhance the debriefing process.

Congress seems to have taken note: the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act requires the Department of Defense to make significant improvements to the debriefing process.  That said, those improvements are limited to large DoD acquisitions, leaving many small businesses stuck with the much more limited debriefing rights currently available under the FAR.

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2018 NDAA: Unsuccessful GAO Protesters May be Liable for Government Costs

The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act put a new twist on potential costs a contractor may incur in filing a GAO bid protest.

While many federal contractors are familiar with the costs arising from a GAO protest, including their attorneys’ fees and consultant and expert witness fees, and some are lucky enough to recoup such costs upon GAO’s sustainment of a protest, under the 2018 NDAA, some large DoD contractors may also be required to reimburse DoD for costs incurred in defending protests denied by GAO.

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GAO Bid Protest Effectiveness Hits 47%–So Why Doesn’t Bid Protest “Reform” Address Government Shortcomings?

GAO bid protests succeeded almost half the time in Fiscal Year 2017.

According to the GAO’s latest Bid Protest Annual Report, the effectiveness rate of GAO bid protests was 47% in the recently-completed fiscal year.  The statistics are striking, because they come just as Congress is finalizing the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes measures aimed at reducing bid protests.  But with bid protests succeeding at a nearly 50% clip, why does the protest “reform” debate seem to center almost entirely on discouraging contractors to protest, rather than on decreasing the number of flawed source selection evaluations?

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