Merle M. DeLancey Jr. and Michael Joseph Montalbano
In May 2018, the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) implemented a $350 filing fee for bid protests. There are differences of opinion regarding why GAO implemented the fee. GAO publicly states that the fee was implemented to cover the costs of its new Electronic Protest Docket System (“EPDS”). Many, however, believe the fee was implemented to deter the filing of frivolous protests. Regardless, there “may” be an unintended consequence of the protest filing fee—an increase in agency-level protests. Recently, several agency contracting officers have stated that they are handling more agency protests, and, in their opinion, it is a direct result of GAO’s protest filing fee. As a result, contractors should understand and be prepared to mitigate the risk of agency protests to protect their contracts and position themselves for new ones.
Pros and Cons of Agency Protests Continue reading “Agency Protests: An Emerging Tool and Potential Threat for Contractors”
Luke W. Meier and Ioana Cristei
The Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) has released its Annual Report to Congress detailing the bid protest statistics for Fiscal Year 2018 (B-158766). The report shows a continuation of recent trends: the sustain rate is low; overall success is nevertheless quite strong; and hearings have become nearly extinct.
The GAO issued a decision on the merits for 622 protests in FY 2018. That represents only a fraction of the 2,607 total protests received, but is the most decisions GAO has issued in at least 10 years. As is typically the case, less than 20 percent of those protests resulted in “sustain” decisions finding in favor of the protester—just 92 protests, or 15 percent of those decided in FY 2018. Despite that seemingly grim rate of success in merits decisions, protesters’ overall rate of success, what GAO terms the “effectiveness” rate, continues to hover around 45 percent. As before, protesters are obtaining desired relief in nearly half of all protests filed—but their “win” typically comes well before a final merits decision with the agency taking voluntary corrective action, usually within the first 30 days of the protest, before the agency report has been filed. Continue reading “FY 2018 GAO Protest Statistics Show Continued Success through Corrective Action”
Merle M. DeLancey Jr.
The Christian Doctrine
The Christian doctrine provides that a mandatory statute or regulation that expresses a significant or deeply ingrained strand of public procurement policy shall be read into a federal contract by operation of law, even if the clause is not in the contract. G. L. Christian & Associates v. United States, 312 F.2d 418 (Ct. Cl. 1963). The doctrine is an exception to the general rule that the government must put vendors on notice of contract requirements, whether expressly or through incorporation by reference. It also is an exception to standard commercial contracting practices and contract interpretation principles. The rationale for the doctrine is that procurement policies set by higher authority cannot be avoided or evaded (deliberately or negligently) by lower government officials. Continue reading “What Is the Christian Doctrine and Why Should You Care?”
Michael J. Slattery
Any company that has participated in a federal procurement, and has been involved in subsequent bid protest litigation, is likely familiar with the procuring agency’s ability to take “corrective action.” In a nutshell, “corrective action” refers to a procuring agency’s recognition that it may have committed an error during a procurement, and the agency’s determination that it will take steps to correct this error. Procuring agencies take corrective action in a number of different circumstances.
Perhaps most commonly, procuring agencies take corrective action after the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) sustains a protest and recommends that the agency remedy the flaws that GAO has identified in the procurement. Agencies also take corrective action in the context of “outcome prediction” Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”). Pursuant to 4 C.F.R. § 21.10(e), GAO, on its own initiative or upon a request filed by the parties, may use flexible alternative procedures to promptly and fairly resolve a protest, including ADR. Often, when GAO informs a procuring Agency during an ADR conference that GAO is likely to sustain a protest, the procuring Agency will announce that it will take corrective action in order to remedy the procurement errors identified by GAO. See, e.g., Deloitte Consulting, LLC, B-412125.6, Nov. 28, 2016, 2016 U.S. Comp. Gen. LEXIS 348 at *1, *5 (wherein agency took corrective action after GAO sustained a protest). Continue reading “Is There No Balm in Gilead? The Federal Circuit’s Decision in Dell Federal Systems L.P. v. United States Reinforces Contractors’ Dwindling Options to Effectively Challenge Agency Corrective Action”
Many of you are aware of the Government Accountability Office’s (“GAO’s”) new bid protest regulations; this is a reminder that they went into effect today, May 1, and include several significant changes. You can see the April 2, 2018, Federal Register text of the revisions here, and in addition to the changes themselves, the background and discussion of comments received in response to GAO’s earlier proposed changes are worth reading to fully understand the new rules and where GAO is coming from.
A quick summary of the most important changes: Continue reading “GAO’s New Bid Protest Regulations in Effect Now”
The United States Department of Defense (“DOD”) has amended the process for debriefings required under Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) 15.506 to allow for offeror questions related to the debriefing. Offerors are allowed up to two business days following a debriefing to submit written questions, and the agency has up to five business days after receipt of the questions to submit written responses. The agency must hold the debriefing open until it delivers its written responses to the disappointed offeror. The new process applies to all DOD debriefings required under FAR 15.506.
The purpose of this new rule implementing section 818 of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) is to improve the quality of debriefings and reduce the number of situations where disappointed offerors feel compelled to protest because the information they receive in debriefings is insufficiently detailed to convince them that the selection decision was fair. More fulsome debriefings should allow offerors to make more informed decisions about whether to protest. Continue reading “New DOD Class Deviation Changes Debriefing Process”
Justin A. Chiarodo and Albert B. Krachman
With yet another government shutdown looming, contractors face a number of uncertainties and challenges that warrant close attention—regardless of whether a shutdown takes place or how long it lasts. Among other challenges, contractors may face a lack of incremental funding; the inability to enter into new contracts or contract modifications; closed government facilities; furloughed government employees; delayed payments; increased indirect costs; and unexercised and deferred contract options. Below we offer six suggestions to help address key areas impacted by a shutdown, including contract funding, internal and external communications, recordkeeping, and deadlines. Continue reading “Government Contractor Shutdown Advisory”