GAO dismissed a protest recently that was the 38th docketed GAO bid protest action regarding a single solicitation.
GAO said the protest was untimely. The decision is a reminder that even seasoned protesters who have gone through complicated bid protests have to stay mindful of GAO’s timeliness 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.
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.
As we’ve discussed in previous posts, if you want to initiate a size protest, you generally must do so within 5 business days after the contracting officer notifies you of the prospective awardee’s identity.
But what happens if, after learning that you did not receive the award, the agency does something that suggests its award decision wasn’t final–e.g., reopens discussions with offerors and seeks revised proposals? Would your size protest still be late if didn’t file within the 5-day time frame?
Take a guess. And keep reading to find out the answer!
In Adams and Associates, Inc., B-417120 et al. (Comp. Gen. Jan. 16, 2019), GAO dismissed a post-award protest, which alleged agency bias and retaliation against the protester, as untimely.
The GAO’s decision highlights the uphill battle contractors face when alleging agency bias.
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.
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.