GAO bid protests were up 3% in Fiscal Year 2015–and protesters achieved a favorable outcome in 45% of cases.
In its Annual Report to Congress on its bid protest function, the GAO provided a look at how protesters fared during FY 2015, as well as the most common reasons protests were sustained.
The Annual Report reveals that 2,639 cases were filed with the GAO in FY 2015, up from 2,561 in FY 2014. Given the enormous volume of procurement actions undertaken by the Government each year, the raw numbers are enlightening. Despite a popular misconception, the vast majority of federal procurements are not protested.
Of these protests, the GAO sustained a mere 12%, down slightly from 13% in FY 2014. But although this 12% number may be tossed around by commentators as proof that “winning” a GAO protest is becoming more difficult, the reality is more complex.
Accounting both for “sustain” decisions and cases in which agencies voluntarily took corrective actions in response to a protests, protesters received a favorable outcome in 45% of cases. Because a typical corrective action involves the agency taking the sort of actions that GAO would otherwise recommend in its decision, there is often little functional difference, from the protester’s perspective, between a “sustain win” and a “corrective action” win.
The GAO’s Annual Report also listed the top five reasons the GAO sustained protests in FY 2015. Those were: (1) unreasonable cost or price evaluations; (2) unreasonable past performance evaluations; (3) failure to follow solicitation’s evaluation criteria; (4) inadequate documentation of the evaluation record; and (5) unreasonable technical evaluations.
The GAO publishes its Annual Report each December, so check back next year for another installment.