PROTESTS INCREASE, “SUCCESS” DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU WANT
Government Accountability Office (GAO) stated last week that protests increased 5% in FY’14, no surprise in a tight government market. While the “sustain” rate, the rate at which GAO agrees with the protestor and recommends an agency take corrective action, decreased to 13%, the “effective” rate remained the same. This is due in large part to agencies taking some type of corrective action before GAO issues a final decision. Contracting officials are increasingly taking corrective action after a protest is filed, often making the original protest moot, and offering the protestor some type of potential relief.
The latest example of this is with the NASA SEWP program where NASA withdrew all SEWP V awards and went back to examine offers for the purpose of potentially taking some sort of corrective action. There’s some good news in this for contractors who file protests. If an agency isn’t sure of its due diligence approach, especially for larger, multiple award IDIQ contracts, an initially unsuccessful offeror may get a second look. At the same time, however, agencies are increasingly taking that second look before initial awards are made, as was the case last year with GSA’s OASIS program. Despite several attempts, there were no successful post-award protests there. Still, protesting when there is a valid reason to do so makes sense for contractors. While the sustained rate may have gone down, the effective rate shows that companies can sometimes get what they want short of that remedy.