Federal Bid Protests-2014 Update

Which Federal Bid Protests Made the News?

Bid protests are formal challenges to either the government’s solicitation of a contract for goods or services or the award or proposed award of the contract to a company.  They are a common occurrence in the world of government procurement and contracting; thousands of federal bid protests are filed and decided each year by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

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Protests in Large Numbers This Year

Approximately 1,600 protests have already been filed this year and the months that have traditionally involved the highest number of protests, August and September, are still ahead.  The Washington Post recently reported that the most federal  bid protests in 2014 involved small businesses and all involved contracts worth billions of dollars.

Topping the Post’s list of hotly contested bids was a Homeland Security opportunity for the Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge II (aka “EAGLE II”), a $22 billion information technology contract.  Initially, 11 contractors received awards and subsequently 46 bid protests were filed.  Outcomes were mixed for protesters: some companies were added as contractors while others have received unfavorable rulings and will have to find business elsewhere.  The final protest, filed by Oasis Systems, was decided in late June.  The GAO rejected the protest without comment.

The Post reported that the next three most contested bids were all related to the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI), and together had a value of more than $4 billion.  The FSSI is a strategic initiative in part to leverage agencies’ combined purchasing power and avoid duplicative contracts and disparate prices across different parts of the government.  For example, the General Services Administration (GSA) lists some of the FSSI commodity solutions as “Express and Ground Domestic Delivery Services; Maintenance, Repair & Operations Supplies; Office Supplies; Print Management; Wireless; and Information Services.”  The Office Supplies solution specifically has been the most contested of FSSI opportunity with 28 protests in 2014.

The final area noted by the Post was small-business set-aside NetOps and Infrastructure Solutions, one of the contracts for the Air Force’s Network-Centric Solutions-2 program.  Fourteen protests have been filed to date and no decisions have been made on them yet.

No End in Sight

Federal Bid protests are expected to continue to rise in part because to cost of filing one is slight in comparison to the business that could be lost, especially as contracts and services become bundled resulting in very high dollar value contracts.  However, similar to a lawsuit, only interested parties can contest a bid and must do so within tight deadlines.  As a practical matter, this usually means that only potential bidders, if solicitation of a contract is being challenged, or actual bidders, if an award itself is being contested, can file a bid protest.  The GAO has 100 calendar days to review and issue a decision on a bid protest, and all of its recent decisions are posted online.

If you’re involved in government contracting or procurement, contact the attorneys at Whitcomb Law, P.C. We will provide you with the legal support and advice your company needs.

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