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?
You’ve poured precious time and resources into a proposal, only to lose out on the award. Making matters worse, the agency’s explanation of the award shows that it didn’t reasonably evaluate your proposal. What can you do?
Here are five things you should know about bid protests.
We’ve been covering many of the important changes to federal contracting promised as a result of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. But among the most consequential might be a provision that requires DoD to compile a report that analyzes the impacts of the current bid protest system on DoD acquistions. This report could ultimately form the basis for potential significant changes to the protest system in future years.
In conducting a cost realism evaluation, an agency was entitled to use an offeror’s historic approved indirect rates and current incumbent direct labor rates to upwardly adjust the offeror’s evaluated cost, in a case where the offeror’s proposed rates were significantly lower.
The GAO recently held that an agency did not err by adjusting a protester’s rates to better align with the protester’s historic indirect rates and current direct rates, where the agency was unable to determine that the protester’s significantly lower proposed rates were realistic.
When multiple unsuccessful offerors protest a solicitation, the GAO ordinarily will dismiss any and all bid protests associated with the procurement in the event one unsuccessful offeror takes its case to federal court–even if some protesters would prefer to remain at the GAO.
As one federal contractor recently learned in Colleague Consulting, LLC—Reconsideration, B-413156.18 (Sept. 12, 2016), the GAO’s jurisdictional rules prevent it from deciding protests when the outcome of the protest could be affected by a pending federal court decision.
A protester challenging an awardee’s compliance with the FAR’s limitation on subcontracting faces an uphill battle.
As explained in a recent GAO bid protest decision, an offeror’s compliance with the limitation on subcontracting is presumed; a protester, therefore, must present specific evidence demonstrating that the awardee will not comply with the limitation. In many cases–especially when the solicitation does not require offerors to provide a breakdown of costs of the work performed by the prime and its subcontractors–such evidence may be next to impossible to obtain.
Under a solicitation for a cost-reimbursable contract, an offeror’s proposed costs are not controlling, because the government is on the hook for the contractor’s actual and allowable incurred costs. Before making an award decision, the government must consider whether the proposed costs should be upwardly adjusted.
A recent GAO bid protest decision highlights the need for offerors bidding on cost-reimbursable work to make sure that their proposed costs are realistic and substantiated—including the proposed costs of major subcontractors.