Timing Issues: Challenges to Brand Name Salient Characteristics Due Before Proposal Submission, Says GAO

Time. It’s a great Pink Floyd song. It’s also something that frequently trips up contractors filing protests before GAO. As one contractor recently discovered, a challenge to the salient characteristics of a brand name product is equivalent to challenging the terms of a solicitation, which carries a different protest deadline than evaluation challenges. Unfortunately for the protester, its argument did not fair nearly as well as one of David Gilmour’s solos.

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GAO Denies Challenge to Solicitation Terms: Use of “Tactical” Was Imprecise, but Allowable

In the world of federal contracting, precision matters. In fact, precision is often essential when developing a winning proposal. When it comes to subjective evaluation considerations, however, it can be challenging to articulate relevant evaluation criteria with a high level of precision. Indeed, as one prospective offeror recently discovered, some evaluation terms are good enough for government work, despite being imprecise.

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GAO Rules RFQ Requirement Unreasonably Restricted Competition

In recent GAO decision, Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., B-418449 (Comp. Gen. May 18, 2020), GAO reminded the Marine Corps to make sure its RFQ requirements were reasonable—and in line with the underlying contract.

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Despite Your Interest in a Protest, GAO Might Not Think You’re an “Interested Party”

Let’s suppose that you just received a new solicitation hot off the press. As you peruse it, you find a requirement that you believe is too onerous or unnecessary. So you contemplate filing a GAO protest to challenge that term. Before doing so, be sure that you’re an “interested party” under GAO’s regulations. Well, I filed a protest, you say, doesn’t that ipso facto make me an interested party? Short answer: no.

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Special Operations or Paint Ball? Protester Argues Solicitation is Ambiguous

Solicitations are intended to provide contractors with sufficient information about an agency’s needs to compete intelligently for government awards. In a recent procurement for special operations forces training facilities, one bidder alleged the solicitation provided so little detail that the solicited site “might just as well be a thrown-together paintball site for teenage birthday parties.” Clearly in no mood to party, GAO denied the protest, taking the agency at its word that its requirements were minimal.

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Ignorance is Bliss? Not When it Comes to Timely Filing of Protest, Says GAO

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.

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GAO: Conversion of Sealed Bid to Negotiated Procurement Doesn’t Cure Untimely Protest

As seasoned government contractors know, an impropriety in a solicitation’s terms must be protested before the deadline to submit an offer. If the protest is submitted after the solicitation’s response deadline, the protest will be dismissed as untimely.

GAO recently held that this rule holds true when an agency converts a sealed bid (under FAR part 14) to a negotiated procurement (under FAR part 15).

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