The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued its Fiscal 2014 Report, including the status and nature of contract award protests. Protests are a good indicator of the competitive environment in which Government Contractors must win businesses, and the number and disposition of protests provide insights into the intensity and nature of competition. As you may know, GAO is responsible for adjudicating any protests of contract awards filed for any reason other than socioeconomic or size status, which are handled by the Small Business Administration.
In Fiscal 2014, the GAO handled 2,561 cases, an increase of 5% from Fiscal 2013 and of 11% since 2011. While most of the protests filed were dismissed, GAO sustained 13%. The key reasons given for sustaining the protests were 1. The Government’s failure to follow the stated evaluation criteria; 2. Flawed selection decision (in this case, the source selection committee considered information contained in pages that exceeded the stated page limitation; 3. Unreasonable technical evaluation (the agency mechanically applied its internal staffing estimates in evaluating proposals); and 4. Unequal Treatment(the agencies assigned strengths to the both the awardee’s and protester’s proposal for providing essentially the same feature).
The number of protests is considered a reliable indicator of the level and intensity of competition for Federal contracts and the scrutiny that contract awards are under from both the Government and commercial business communities.
What does this mean for you? A clear understanding of the evaluation factors listed in a solicitation is every bit as important as understanding the proposal requirements or statement of work. Flawed or incomplete evaluations mean poor awards. Your understanding of the evaluation factors as well as of the protest process are valuable tools in your kit for winning Government work.
If you are considering lodging a protest on a contract award or if you have a protest against your award of a contract, please feel free to seek direction from your Coley professional team. We have decades of extensive experience in both lodging and defending against contract award protests. Remember that you haven’t won the bid until the protests are over and the signature is on the contract document!
In general, a protest must be filed within 10 days of an issue becoming known. GAO then has 65 to 100 days to resolve protests.
Published author with 30 years’ experience working with Federal agencies and contractors, including proposal development and project delivery.