GAO’s annual bid protest report is a fall tradition for federal contracting attorneys. It’s perhaps not quite as tasty as stuffing in my book, but always interesting. In it, GAO summarizes its slate of bid protests for the previous fiscal year, and we can glean insights from how the protest numbers have changed from prior years.
Here are some key points from this year: (1) the key effectiveness metric, showing numbers of sustains and corrective actions at GAO, was up again to 51% for the 2022 fiscal year and (2) total bid protest numbers are down slightly, continuing a trend from the last few years.
Many bid protests we handle at Koprince McCall Pottroff are filed after the contract has been awarded to an offeror. However, sometimes there are issues that are apparent in the solicitation that require clarification or correction prior to the bidding or proposal deadline. In these situations, potential offerors can file a pre-award protest that challenges solicitation terms, but, as with most GAO matters, there are strict deadlines that must be adhered to if the protestor wants to avoid her protest being dismissed. While pre-award protest is the common term, remember that a challenge to a solicitation’s terms is due before the proposal deadline.
GAO recently sustained a protest to the terms of a solicitation incorporating the Randolph-Sheppard Act (RSA). The RSA is a statutorily-prescribed preference for blind individuals in the operation of vending facilities (which include cafeterias, snack bars, and automatic vending machines) on Federal property.
The protester here, the incumbent contractor and a non-RSA HUBZone concern, challenged the agency’s decision to include the RSA preference in its HUBZone set-aside solicitation for food service attendant services, arguing the work the solicitation contemplated was not for the operation of a cafeteria. And GAO agreed. This GAO decision could have a significant impact, given the broad range of food service solicitations that agencies have been (seemingly increasingly) applying the RSA to lately. Let’s take a deeper dive.
Without wanting to make the audience feel too old, I was not yet born when Transformers was a pop culture phenomenon. Still, it’s a simple but fun concept: robots that transform to and from cool vehicles. Regardless of what form they take, they are still the same character.
The same cannot be said of government contractors submitting an initial bid for the first phase of a solicitation as a prime contractor and a bid as a member of a contractor teaming agreement (CTA) for the second phase of said solicitation. While the same company is involved, the bids are treated as being from different entities. Such was the case in the GAO matter of Softrams, LLC, B-419927.4 (Feb. 7, 2022).
GAO has released its annual bid protest report. Along with mashed potatoes and stuffing, it’s one of our favorite holiday traditions at SmallGovCon. This report came over a month earlier than last year, making this more of a Thanksgiving treat than Christmas this year.
A couple key takeaways are (1) the key effectiveness metric, showing numbers of sustains and corrective actions at GAO, was 48% for the 2021 fiscal year and (2) total bid protest numbers are down slightly, continuing a trend from the last few years.
Evaluation of offers is a crucial point in the procurement process. During this time period, an agency may, in certain procurements, reach out with discussion questions meant to bring clarity to the decision-making process. However, any such discussions must be meaningful.
As one offeror recently found out, meaningful discussions even apply in so-called simplified acquisitions.
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?