Steve Charles is co-founder and executive vice president of immixGroup, which helps technology companies do business with the government. He is a frequent speaker and lecturer on technology and the federal procurement process. He can be reached at Steve_Charles@immixGroup.com. The information he presents was adapted and digested from the book “The Inside Guide to the Federal IT Market,” published by Management Concepts Press. For more information, visit www.insideguidetofederalit.com/.
I've extracted and pasted, as usual, so read the whole article, especially if you want to get a bead on the federal system. I've tried to extract those parts of the piece that are very similar to, if not identical with, the Guam process: the venues and timelines do differ, but the substance is practically the same.
Lost a Federal Contract Bid? How the Protest Process Works
There are three main types of protests:
* A protest that some aspect of the solicitation itself is prejudicial to your company.These are pre-bid, pre-award, and post-award protests, respectively.
* A protest that exclusion from competitive range or other aspect of the negotiated stage of a procurement was unfairly done.
* A protest that the final selection process was flawed.
Pre-bid and pre-award protests often get imprecisely lumped together as pre-award protests, since a pre-bid protest does occur before contract award. But the two are significantly different; protests made after government receipt of a proposal or quote have far more in common than protests made before the date bids are due.
The simplest are pre-bid protests against unduly restrictive solicitation, improper requirements bundling, ambiguous language, or unreasonable evaluation criteria.
Filing a protest with an agency or with the GAO typically causes the agency to suspend further execution of the procurement, whether the protest is filed before or after a contract award. At the Court of Federal Claims, you can ask for a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction against the agency.
For better or worse, agency-level protests are relatively rare, since most protest experts doubt agencies' ability to fairly evaluate themselves. Agency-level protests also lack the kind of document disclosure process that the GAO facilitates. Keep an eye on GAO deadlines for filing a protest.
Only "interested parties" can file a protest, and for the most part it's pretty clear who is one. The legal definition of an interested party accepted by the GAO and the Court of Federal Claims is “an actual or prospective bidder or offer or whose direct economic interest would be affected by the award of the contract or by failure to award the contract.” Post-award, that means an offeror. Pre-award, that means companies considering participation in the competition. Subcontractors, or potential subcontractors, are not considered an interested party.
It is possible to resolve a problem with a solicitation's requirements or evaluation criteria without having to file a protest. During some solicitations, there is a period before the response deadline during which companies can ask for clarifications, and those requests for clarification often result in ameliorative amendments to the solicitation language.
The 10-day period for filing with the GAO starts ticking when the agency delivers an “adverse action” against your protest.
For a larger icon view of the subject, consider Fox Rothschild's Federal Government Contracts & Procurement Blog's Government Accountability Office ("GAO") bid protest series. The third part of the series is available here, with links there to the first 2 parts.
In the first two installments, we covered who may file a GAO protest (Part 1) and what other parties can (and will) participate in the process (Part 2). Today, in Part 3, we'll discuss What May Be Protested.