In a protest before GAO, prejudice is an essential element. Even if GAO might agree that an agency’s action was improper, it will not sustain a protest where the protester would not have received the award anyway.
That’s what happened in the protest of Benaka Inc., B-416836 et al. (Dec. 16, 2018).
Imagine that you’re a manufacturer of appliances, and respond to a solicitation seeking one of your appliances (on a brand name basis). You, of course, propose to provide your appliance. But you lose out on an award to an offeror that submits an offer for a different appliance that admittedly does not comply with the solicitation’s minimum requirements.
In this situation, you’d probably be fairly upset. And as a recent GAO decision acknowledged, you’d likely have a successful basis of protest—that is, if you could establish that you were prejudiced by the government’s award decision, and if you understood what exactly the GAO means by “prejudice.”