As our regular readers know, a GAO protest challenging an agency’s evaluation decision must be filed within 10 days from the date the protester knew (or should have known) of the protest grounds, or within 10 days from the date the protester receives its debriefing (but only if the debriefing was required and timely requested). 4 C.F.R. § 21.2(a)(2).
But sometimes, an agency might give an offeror a reason to protest before it makes its official award determination. In that case, should the offeror wait to file its protest until the agency completes its evaluation?
In some cases, no—the protest should be filed within 10 days from the date the agency makes its determination known.
Over the years, we’ve written a fair number of blogs about how contractors have been either too early or too late to protest. What we haven’t blogged about is a situation where a contractor is premature and late. Unfortunately for one protester, GAO has recently confirmed that you can, indeed, be both too early and too late to protest.
With the ongoing rise of technology in the workplace, safe email practices are increasingly important. In particular, many in the cybersecurity community are concerned about email attachments and spam. Even so, in Information Unlimited, Inc., B-415716.40 (Oct. 4, 2019), GAO warned protesters not to delay in opening email attachments provided by the government.
Ignorance is bliss,
right? Not always. In the world of government contracting, GAO recently dismissed
a protest because its initial agency protest was not timely filed, reminding
the protester that ignorance of the law is no excuse.
GAO dismissed a protest recently that was the 38th docketed GAO bid protest action regarding a single solicitation.
GAO said the protest was untimely. The decision is a reminder that even seasoned protesters who have gone through complicated bid protests have to stay mindful of GAO’s timeliness rules.
As anyone in the federal contracting line of work knows, deadlines come at you fast and hard. In a recent GAO decision, GAO refused to relax the timeliness rules associated with protests of solicitation requirements, even where that left the contractor with very little time to protest.
GAO’s bid protest window for debriefings—which closes 10 days after the required debriefing—knows very few exceptions. But what if the agency offers you a more informative post-award debriefing in place of the pre-award debriefing normally required upon your elimination from the competitive range? This option will likely improve your ability to compete for future contracts with the agency. Shouldn’t you be able to accept it without giving up your right to protest? GAO says no.