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.
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.
In a GAO bid protest, recovering costs after an agency takes corrective action turns on whether or not the agency unduly delayed the corrective action.
A recent GAO case shows that, in certain circumstances, an agency may be able to fight a protester almost to the bitter end, then take corrective action without necessarily having crossed the “unduly delayed” line.
Successful GAO bid protesters can sometimes recover their attorneys’ fees and costs. But when are fees and costs recoverable? How must a claim be supported? When is a claim for costs and attorneys’ fees due?
In the Summer 2017 edition of The Procurement Lawyer (the quarterly publication of the American Bar Association’s Public Contract Law Section), my Koprince Law LLC colleagues Candace Shields and Ian Patterson take an in-depth look at the recovery of costs and attorneys’ fees in GAO bid protests, answering these questions and many more. Not a Public Contract Law Section member? No problem. The Public Contract Law Section has kindly allowed us to republish the article–just click here to read.