GAO Bid Protest Process: Read our “Contract Management” Magazine Article

GAO’s bid process can be difficult to understand. There are rules about who can file a bid protest and what issues can be protested. And the deadlines for filing are strict and unforgiving.

In the February 2019 issue of Contract Management Magazine (the monthly publication of the National Contract Management Association), we provide a plain English overview of GAO’s bid protest process. We think that, whether you’ve been a federal government contractor for many years or just a few, you’ll find it informative. The magazine has kindly allowed us to post the article. Click here to view and happy reading!

Who’s the Ombudsman? Proposed FAR Rule Requires Clarity

When GAO lacks jurisdiction to hear a protest over a task or delivery order, contractors have the right to complain to an ombudsman. Implementation of the ombudsman right, however, has been haphazard at best.

Last week, the DoD, GSA, and NASA–the entities comprising the FAR Council–proposed a rule to help alleviate this issue for IDIQ contracts.

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GAO Faults Contractor for General Manager’s Sickness

When an incumbent contractor’s general manager got sick and had to quit, the contractor promptly found a replacement, which the agency approved. But there was still one problem: the incumbent had already proposed to use the same general manager for the next contract.

According to GAO, the agency was right to eliminate the contractor from the competition, even though the agency knew that the contractor had a new general manager and had, in fact, approved the replacement.

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Federal Court Again Says Agency Erred By Not Clarifying Proposal Errors

A procuring agency erred by failing to seek clarification of obvious errors in an offeror’s proposal, according to a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

In Level 3 Communications, LLC v. United States, No. 16-829 (2016), the Court held that although a Contracting Officer has discretion over whether to seek clarification of a proposal, this discretion is not unlimited. By failing to clarify obvious errors, the Contracting Officer’s decision was arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.

The decision builds on a 2013 case, BCPeabody Construction Services, Inc., No. 13-378C (2013), in which the Court reached a similar conclusion. But so far, the GAO has drawn a hard line, essentially holding that an agency’s discretion in this area is unlimited.

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2017 NDAA Requires GAO Report On DoD Minority And WOSB Contract Awards

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act will require the GAO to issue a report about the number and types of contracts the Department of Defense awarded to minority-owned and women-owned businesses during fiscal years 2010 to 2015.

If the 2017 NDAA is signed into law, the GAO would be required to submit its report within one year of the statute’s enactment.

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GAO Proposes Major Overhaul Of Bid Protest Filing System

The GAO is proposing a major overhaul of its bid protest filing system.

In a Federal Register notice published today, the GAO proposes significant changes regarding how protests are filed (get ready for filing fees), the timeliness of bid protests, and much more.

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