Protesting: The Why, When and How

Do you suspect that there was an unjust award made on a solicitation you’ve recently bid? Or do you believe a solicitation improperly restricts your ability to bid? All forms of government are required to solicit offers that will allow all responsible sources the option to compete and to evaluate offerors in an open and free environment with equal opportunity to each bidder.

As government contracting continues to become more competitive in response to shrinking budgets for federal contracts, more disappointed offerors are pursuing bid protests to protect their interests. Here are a few ideas on why, when and how to file a protest.

Why

Federal budgets and spending have continued to decline since the peak in 2008. As federal contractors try to keep their piece of the pie, it is increasingly important to understand solicitation requirements, evaluation criteria and reasonableness for a bid protest. It’s important to consider the cost/value benefit and what will be gained by protesting. There are two types of protests.

Pre-Award Protest

An offeror may file a pre-award protest if it alleges there is apparent improprieties in a solicitation, essentially challenging the solicitations requirements, specifications or restrictions. This is submitted prior to award and often prior to the due date.

Post-Award Protest

A post-award protest challenges the reasons the offeror was not awarded, and/or challenges the reasons an unqualified or irresponsible bidder was awarded the contract. If an offeror finds mistakes present in the evaluation scoring process or believes there is a bias relationship or communication with bid evaluators, these would also be reason to submit a post-award protest. A debrief is required prior to submitting a post-award protest.

Once an award has been made, the offeror should request a debrief within three business days of award. During the debrief, the Contracting Officer will provide information on how your proposal was evaluated broken down by section and where your pricing (if applicable) fell in comparison to other offerors. This information is helpful because it can provide a guideline of areas to learn and strengthen future proposals.

When

A pre-award protest must be filed before bid-opening and will delay award of the contract until the protest is resolved. A post-award protest must be filed not later than 10 days after the date of your debriefing.

How

Protesting an award can be filed a few different ways. An offeror can file directly through the agency or through the US Government Accountability Office (GAO). On this website, all bid protests are Electronically Filed (E-filed) with the Electronic Protest Docketing System (EPDS).

The future of your business is important! Understanding specific solicitation requirements and evaluation processes, requesting and participating in debriefs, as well as knowing when and how to protest a bias solicitation or an unwarranted award will protect your future. Contact Meridian West for guidance and assistance with your proposal and possible protest.

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