Protecting sensitive business information, especially pricing, is essential even in the GAO bid protest realm. As an agency found out, even an inadvertent release of such information could lead to a sustained protest.
This slip up resulted in the cancellation of a nearly $1 billion contract. Needless to say, this was a big deal. How did this happen, and what should parties be looking for to protect their confidential data?
In 2020, the GAO Bid Protest effectiveness rate crossed the 50% threshold, higher than we’ve seen it in any recent year. Overall, cases filed went down a mere 2% year over year.
GAO issues its yearly report as a requirement under statute. Congress is particularly concerned with knowing 1) which federal agencies didn’t follow GAO’s recommendations in bid protests and 2) if GAO did not issue a decision in 100 days. As like most years, GAO was “pleased” to report that all agencies followed its recommendations, when given, and that it timely (within 100 days) decided all bid protests.
Agencies have broad discretion when it comes to evaluating potential organizational conflicts of interest–but that discretion isn’t unlimited. In a recent decision involving a fight between two telecommunications giants, the GAO sustained the protest, holding that the the agency unreasonably concluded that there was no possibility of an “impaired objectivity” OCI arising from the award.
In its recent decision, Peraton, Inc., B-416916.8, et al. (Aug. 3, 2020), GAO ultimately sustained a protest that the Department of State’s corrective action was unreasonably limited—recommending the protester be reimbursed its protest costs in the process.
For more on how it reached this result, buckle up! Because it was a long road for the protester to reach the GAO sustain.
GAO recently dismissed a protest to an awardee’s eligibility under the applicable size standard. The protester argued that the agency should have known that the awardee exceeded the nonmanufacturer rule’s 500-employee maximum. After extensive briefing from both parties and from the SBA itself, GAO found that the awardee’s proposal didn’t raise any issues and that it was really up to the SBA to decide the size issues anyway.
GAO issued a bid protest decision that sustained a protest in part, dismissed it in part, and denied it in part. Contractors can learn from this that even if all the arguments do not work, all it takes is one.
High Noon Unlimited, Inc. protested the U.S. Marine Corps decision to buy rifle magazine pouches off High Speed Gear, Inc. There was a large difference in price between the two offerors, with High Noon offering approximately $2.2 million while High Speed charged just under $3.6 million.