On Friday, July 12, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
While this passage may lead to an uncharacteristic political fight over appropriations, contractors will be watching whether the U.S. Senate and House bills ultimately agree upon the less politically-charged sections likely to impact their businesses.
On June 11, the House Armed Services Committee published its draft of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was updated June 19. Among other proposed sections impacting small business contractors which will be discussed in future blog posts, the draft reduces the monetary threshold for comprehensive Department of Defense debriefings and renews the DoD’s Mentor-Protégé Program.
The DoD has issued a class deviation to immediately implement part of the the enhanced debriefing requirements mandated by the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.
In a class deviation issued on March 22, 2018, the DoD says that, effective immediately, contracting officers must comply with new requirements allowing unsuccessful offerors to submit questions–and postponing the ticking of the “protest clock” until after answers are received. But the class deviation doesn’t fully implement the 2018 NDAA’s enhanced debriefing requirements; the portion of the statute calling for the disclosure of redacted source selection information is not addressed.
GAO bid protests filed by small businesses are (statistically speaking) less likely to succeed than protests filed by large contractors, according to the RAND Corporation’s recent bid protest study.
The disparity isn’t the result of discrimination against small businesses, but rather a product of other factors: primarily, the motivation to protest, the understanding of the protest system, and access to legal counsel. RAND raises an important point, but offers no fair and easy solution. Perhaps, given that protests overall are “exceedingly uncommon,” a solution isn’t needed–but it’s wise to think about whether there are ways to help small businesses become better educated about bid protests.
Only a very small percentage of DoD contracts–0.3 percent, to be precise–are protested, according to a comprehensive and fascinating new report on bid protests issued by the RAND Corporation.
The detailed report, which was prepared at the behest of Congress, concludes that DoD bid protests are “exceedingly uncommon,” and typically aren’t frivolous. RAND’s analysts urge policymakers to carefully consider the data when evaluating whether reforms to the bid protest process are necessary–and to “avoid drawing overall conclusions or assumptions about trends from one case when it comes to the efficacy of the bid protest system.”
Amen to that.
GAO bid protests succeeded almost half the time in Fiscal Year 2017.
According to the GAO’s latest Bid Protest Annual Report, the effectiveness rate of GAO bid protests was 47% in the recently-completed fiscal year. The statistics are striking, because they come just as Congress is finalizing the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes measures aimed at reducing bid protests. But with bid protests succeeding at a nearly 50% clip, why does the protest “reform” debate seem to center almost entirely on discouraging contractors to protest, rather than on decreasing the number of flawed source selection evaluations?