Readers of this blog will know that the GAO interprets its protest timeliness rules quite strictly. A recent GAO case provides us with an opportunity to review a nuanced piece of those timeliness rules. Specifically, how withdrawal of an agency-level protest affects the deadline to file a GAO protest, and what counts as a withdrawal of an agency-level protest versus an “initial adverse agency action.”
In this case, the protester lost its GAO protest rights by trying to pursue its agency-level protest with an inspector general’s office rather than with the contracting officer.
When my nephew started kindergarten, his vocabulary expanded to include a new phrase: “Rules are rules, and you have to follow the rules!” For my nephew (who, if I’m being honest, can be a bit mischievous), this newfound respect for following rules was adorable.
Government contractors should commit this lesson to heart: you have to follow the rules! As one government contractor recently learned, this includes GAO’s bid protest filing rules. Where a protester doesn’t follow the rules, its protest is likely to be dismissed.
This story is about a glider, a balloon, the planet Venus, and Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. This subject matter is the fabric of the universe, but the lesson it teaches is as mundane as linen sheets.
A NASA Small Business Innovation Research offeror cannot always wait for a debriefing to file a GAO bid protest, because if it does, it may run the risk of the protest grounds being untimely.
You’ve submitted a great proposal, but then you get the bad news – you lost. As most seasoned contractors know, an unsuccessful offeror often can ask for a debriefing from the agency and in doing so, hopefully get some valuable insight into its decision-making process. Many also understand that the benefits of asking for a debriefing may include extending the timeline for filing a GAO bid protest.
But not all solicitations are subject to the same debriefing regulations, and depending on how the procurement was conducted, an offeror might not be entitled to that extended deadline–as one company recently learned the hard way in the context of a GSA Schedule procurement.
Contractors would be wise to keep a close watch on FedBizOpps.gov, otherwise they run the risk missing the chance to protest a sole source award.
When an agency decides to make an award without competition, it often must publish a Justification and Approval (referred to simply as a “J&A”) on FedBizOpps explaining why a competition would not meet the agency’s needs. A potential competitor seeking to protest such an award at the GAO must file the protest before 10 days have passed from publication of the J&A, otherwise the protest may be untimely. A competitor that is not paying attention could be out of luck.