Small Business GAO Bid Protests Are Less Successful, RAND Study Says

GAO bid protests filed by small businesses are (statistically speaking) less likely to succeed than protests filed by large contractors, according to the RAND Corporation’s recent bid protest study.

The disparity isn’t the result of discrimination against small businesses, but rather a product of other factors: primarily, the motivation to protest, the understanding of the protest system, and access to legal counsel.  RAND raises an important point, but offers no fair and easy solution.  Perhaps, given that protests overall are “exceedingly uncommon,” a solution isn’t needed–but it’s wise to think about whether there are ways to help small businesses become better educated about bid protests.

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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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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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