According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) protests have risen 75 percent since 2007 with more than 2,475 protests filed in 2012 alone. The increasing number of protests combined with a declining Federal budget and fewer employees has created an unmanageable caseload.
To help better manage its caseload the GAO has proposed implementing a $240.00 protest filing fee that would help fund an automated online docket system to replace the current manual process.
According to the GAO, an online docket system will help streamline the protest process and help minimize frivolous protests. They report that more than 80% of all protests filed end where the protest is not sustained; meaning the protester’s claim is found to be without merit.
Because nearly 50% of all protests are filed by Small Businesses, the House Small Business Committee said “it will be ready to evaluate any effects of such a fee on small contractors.” The GAO has not officially submitted the request for the addition of the fee, but it must be approved by the House before it would be activated. While some argue that filing fees would be an extra burden to small businesses, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims have set the precedent by charging a $350 fee for filing court cases.
Used appropriately, protests can be an effective way to hold government accountable to its own procurement rules when a bidder believes that a contract was incorrectly awarded. However, protests filed without merit ultimately cost the taxpayers.
Ramiro is a Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM) and as a Senior Consultant with Coley Government Contract Services, he help clients with GSA schedule management services. He provides advice and ensures client’s GSA contracts are compliant and current.