Bias And Bid Protests: GAO Rejects Gender Bias Allegation

A woman-owned firm’s introduction of generalized evidence of discrimination against women in the fields of architecture and engineering was insufficient to demonstrate that the Navy discriminated against the woman-owned business with respect to a particular federal opportunity.

A recent GAO bid protest decision highlights how difficult it is to successfully demonstrate bias by government officials–even in a case where statistical evidence suggests that bias may be prevalent in a specific industry.

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SBA Size Protests and the Brooks Act

The so-called “Exception Paradox” is one of those un-winnable logic games.  It goes something like this, “if every rule has an exception, then doesn’t the rule that every rule has an exception have an exception, too?”

These are the sorts of brain teasers that sometimes kept me busy in grade school (what can I say, I wasn’t a very cool fourth grader).  Fortunately, when it comes to SBA size protests, the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals has made it easy to understand an exception to one common rule.  In a recent decision, SBA OHA held that the ordinary rule governing when an offeror is deemed “small” for a particular federal procurement does not apply to a SBA size protest filed in connection with an architect-engineer competition conducted under the federal Brooks Act and FAR 36.6.

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The Brooks Act, Debriefings, and GAO Bid Protests

Remember 80s band Nu Shooz?  No?  Even if the name doesn’t right a bell,  I can almost guarantee that you’ve heard the band’s one hit, “I Can’t Wait.”   Go on, take a listen on YouTube, and you’ll see that  I’m right.

While you are busy bopping to that slice of 80s retro-ness, it’s worth knowing that “I Can’t Wait” is the rule when it comes to GAO bid protests based on architect and engineering procurements conducted under the Brooks Act.  According to a recent GAO decision, unlike with a typical competitive procurement under FAR Part 15, an unsuccessful offeror cannot wait to file a GAO bid protest regarding matters of which it is already aware until after it receives a debriefing.  Wait until after the debriefing, and the GAO might dismiss the protest as untimely–just like it recently did in the case of one unlucky protester.

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