DOD will Require Cybersecurity Certification Starting Fall 2020

It’s not too soon to start thinking about those New Year’s resolutions. Along with other personal goals, federal contractors might want to add a cybersecurity resolution to their list. The Department of Defense has drafted a cybersecurity certification that will be finalized in January 2020. Starting next fall, contractors will have to be certified in order to submit proposals on defense solicitations. Read on for some of the highlights.

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5 Things You Should Know: Pre-Award Bid Protests

Small businesses often search for ways to increase their competitiveness for federal government contracts. A sometimes overlooked method is to try to better define the procurement’s requirements in a manner that improves a firm’s chances of being awarded the contract, through a pre-award bid protest.

Here are five things you should know about pre-award protests:

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GAO: Conversion of Sealed Bid to Negotiated Procurement Doesn’t Cure Untimely Protest

As seasoned government contractors know, an impropriety in a solicitation’s terms must be protested before the deadline to submit an offer. If the protest is submitted after the solicitation’s response deadline, the protest will be dismissed as untimely.

GAO recently held that this rule holds true when an agency converts a sealed bid (under FAR part 14) to a negotiated procurement (under FAR part 15).

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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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GAO: Protest Sustained Where Agency Improperly Applied Adjectival Ratings

Recently, GAO sustained a bid protest where the ratings assigned to the unsuccessful offeror’s proposal did not conform to the definitions identified within the Solicitation.

For those of you frequent the blog, you may recall earlier this year when we blogged on GAO’s decision in Immersion Consulting, LLC, B-415155 et al. (Dec. 4, 2017) where the Source Selection Authority had unilaterally revised the Source Selection Evaluation Board’s evaluation prior to making an award decision. GAO sustained the protest and instructed the agency to reevaluate proposals. This same procurement was subject to another round of protests following the agency’s reevaluation.

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GAO Sustains Protest of “Unduly Restrictive” Solicitation Requirement

GAO typically affords agencies wide discretion to establish technical restrictions within solicitations.

In a recent decision, however, GAO confirmed that such discretion is not unbounded. When an agency’s technical restriction is unduly restrictive of competition, the GAO will sustain a bid protest.

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Government References Didn’t Complete PPQs? “Too Bad,” Says GAO

Federal contractors frequently find themselves in the position of needing to establish their past performance credentials to secure future contracts – the government’s form of a reference check. The government often performs these reference checks by requesting completed past performance questionnaires, or PPQs, which the government uses as an indicator of the offeror’s ability to perform a future contract.

But what happens when a contractor’s government point of contact fails to return a completed PPQ? As a recent GAO decision demonstrates, if the solicitation requires offerors to return completed PPQs, the agency need not independently reach out to government officials who fail to complete those PPQs.

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