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.
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.
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 make me an interested party? Short answer: no.
CMMC continues to be in the news as the government ramps up the process to start requiring contractors to be compliant with the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification. In this video, I remind contractors why CMMC is so important.
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.
GAO recently sustained a challenge to an agency’s award decision where the awardee failed to provide a required letter of commitment for an individual proposed for a key personnel position. GAO said that the awardee failed to satisfy a material solicitation requirement, making the agency’s award improper.
It’s not too soon to start thinking about those New Year’s resolutions. Along with other personal goals, federal contractors might want to add a cybersecurity resolution to their list. The Department of Defense has drafted a cybersecurity certification that will be finalized in January 2020. Starting next fall, contractors will have to be certified in order to submit proposals on defense solicitations.