Option to “Postpone” Required Pre-Award Debriefing Until After Award—Gain Information, But Lose Right to Protest.

GAO’s bid protest window for debriefings—which closes 10 days after the required debriefing—knows very few exceptions. But what if the agency offers you a more informative post-award debriefing in place of the pre-award debriefing normally required upon your elimination from the competitive range? This option will likely improve your ability to compete for future contracts with the agency. Shouldn’t you be able to accept it without giving up your right to protest? GAO says no.

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Pre-Solicitation Notices not Grounds for Protests, GAO says

Like my alarm clock ringing on Monday mornings, GAO recently reminded protestors that protests based on pre-solicitation notices are just too early.

In F-Star Zaragosa Port, LLC; F-Star Socorro Holding, LLC, B-417414, et al. (Comp. Gen. Apr. 15, 2019), GAO dismissed protests based on pre-solicitation notices as premature.   

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GAO Dismisses Untimely Protest Grounds, Incumbent Should Have Known of Pricing Issues Based on Debriefing

GAO will frequently dismiss protest grounds based on its strict timeliness rules, as we’ve written about before on the blog. Generally, GAO’s bid protest regulations require a contractor to file a protest within “10 days after the basis of protest is known or should have been known.”

But sometimes knowing when a protest ground is untimely can be difficult. For instance, where a protester should have known the basis for protest based on an inference from a debriefing response and its incumbent knowledge, does that debriefing start the 10-day protest clock running? A recent GAO decision answers that question in the affirmative.

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Don’t Rely on Auto-Generated EPDS Filing Emails, says GAO

Earlier this year, GAO unveiled its new Electronic Protest Docketing System (“EPDS”) for bid protests. EPDS serves as the central filing system for all bid protests pursued before GAO. As a courtesy, EPDS will automatically generate a courtesy email notice anytime a new document is filed with GAO.

In a recent Request for Reconsideration, however, GAO was asked to reconsider its dismissal of a protest after the protester failed to receive the automatically-generated EPDS notice that the Agency Report had been filed. GAO held that the protester in question couldn’t rely on its failure to receive the email to avoid the ordinary timeliness rules applicable to GAO bid protests.

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GAO: Agency Closing Time is 4:30 p.m., not 5:00 p.m.

Unless an agency designates different business hours, the FAR says that a government agency is deemed to close at 4:30 p.m. local time–not 5:00 p.m., as it would be easy to assume.

In a recent case, the 4:30 p.m. closing time cost an unsuccessful offeror a chance at a GAO protest because the offeror’s debriefing request, sent to the agency at 4:59 p.m., was deemed untimely.

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GAO: Bid Protests Must Be Timely Received Through EPDS

When it comes to timely filing a bid protest, government contractors should keep one overriding principle in mind: late is late, and it probably won’t matter why the protest wasn’t timely received.

GAO recently reaffirmed this principle when it dismissed a bid protest that wasn’t timely received by its new, mandatory Electronic Protest Docketing System.

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Voluntary Protest Withdrawal Following Outcome Prediction ADR Precludes Later Refiling, Says GAO

GAO’s outcome prediction alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) can be a tempting option for all parties to a protest, as it provides a preview of sorts for GAO’s written decision. A recent GAO decision, however, underscores that despite its relative informality, outcome prediction ADR can have significant repercussions on future protest developments.

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