In its annual report to Congress under the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984, 31 U.S.C. § 3554(e)(2), GAO disclosed the following bid protest statistics for FYs 2009-2013:
For the first time since FY 2006, the number of cases filed in FY 2013 decreased from the previous year (the FY 2005 – FY 2009 statistics, and C&M’s analysis thereof, are available here). However, it’s too early to tell whether the 2% downturn in protests filed was an anomaly, a result of sequestration (including furloughs of personnel with acquisition responsibilities) or impending government shutdown, or simply an inevitable leveling-off after multiple record years of protest filings. More notable, perhaps, was the sharp decline in the percentage of fully developed cases in which GAO conducted a hearing. FY 2013’s 3.36% hearing rate represents the lowest such mark in at least a decade, and continues a steady decline noted since FY 2009. As the decline is not tied either to an increase in the utilization of the ADR process or a decrease in the sustain rate (which is generally higher for protests for which GAO conducts a hearing), it appears that GAO has simply requested hearings in fewer protests. Perhaps GAO has simply been forced to become more efficient at weeding through protest allegations and agency reports without additional fact development during hearings in order to accommodate the recent record numbers of protest filings. The most important statistics—at least to protesters—remained relatively unchanged, as the “Sustain” and “Effectiveness” rates clocked in at 17% and 43%, respectively. The “Effectiveness Rate” reflects cases where the protester obtained some form of relief by the agency, either by virtue of a sustain or, more commonly, an agency’s decision to take corrective action. As such, as in previous years, in nearly half of the protests filed in FY 2013, the protester apparently received some form of relief.