GAO protests typically address issues that occur before contract award. For example, GAO will review a solicitation’s terms. It will also review an agency’s evaluation of proposals submitted in connection with a solicitation.
But as a general rule, GAO won’t insert itself into disputes arising after award, which fall under the contract administration umbrella. But there is an exception–and an important one . . . one that all federal contractors should be aware of.
An agency may modify a contract without running afoul of the Competition in Contracting Act, so long as the the modification is deemed “in scope.” An “out of scope” modification, on the other hand, is improper–and may be protested at GAO.
In a recent bid protest decision, GAO denied a protest challenging an agency’s modification of a contract where the modification was within scope and of a nature that competitors could have reasonably anticipated at the time of award. In its decision, GAO explained the difference between an in scope and out of scope modification, including the factors GAO will use to determine whether the modification is permissible.