Short Procurement Deadline? GAO says it Doesn’t Impact Protest Timing Rules

As anyone in the federal contracting line of work knows, deadlines come at you fast and hard. In a recent GAO decision, GAO refused to relax the timeliness rules associated with protests of solicitation requirements, even where that left the contractor with very little time to protest.

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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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