Photo of Amy Laderberg O'SullivanPhoto of John E. McCarthy Jr.Photo of Anuj VohraPhoto of Rob SneckenbergPhoto of Cherie Owen

On November 1, 2022, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its Annual Report on Bid Protests for Fiscal Year 2022.  While the number of protests GAO received dropped by 12% for the second year in a row, the overall protest “Effectiveness Rate”—meaning the percentage of cases in which the protester received some form of relief, such as voluntary corrective action by the agency or a GAO sustain—increased to 51%, tying Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 for the highest rate in the past five years.  

GAO’s Annual Report also provides a helpful summary of the most common grounds for sustained protests in the prior year.  In FY2022, those grounds were: (1) unreasonable technical evaluation; (2) flawed selection decision; and (3) flawed solicitation.  The inclusion of “flawed solicitation” on the list is notable—it has only made the list of “most successful grounds” one other time since GAO began tracking successful protest grounds.  This serves as a reminder that contractors should consider a pre-award protest as a potentially viable method of resolving solicitation flaws and ambiguities if other routes (such as the Q&A process) are unsuccessful or unavailable.    

The chart below shows the top sustain grounds by year.  As seen below, flawed technical evaluations continue to represent one of the most consistently successful grounds for sustains, meaning would-be protesters should consider whether they have a credible basis to make such arguments when weighing an award challenge. 

Continue Reading GAO’s 2022 Bid Protest Report to Congress for FY 2021 Shows Better than 50% Chance of Obtaining Relief

Photo of Amy Laderberg O'SullivanPhoto of John E. McCarthy Jr.Photo of Cherie OwenPhoto of Zachary Schroeder

Challenging an agency’s failure to award a “strength” for a proposal feature can prove to be an exercise in futility.  GAO frequently characterizes this oft-rejected argument as mere disagreement and defers to the agency’s conclusions.  But, following GAO’s decision in Tech Marine Business, Inc., B-420872, Oct. 14, 2022, the tide may be turning.  Agencies are now required to demonstrate that their decision not to award strength credit was reasonable and consistent with the stated evaluation criteria.

The protester, Tech Marine Business, Inc. (Tech Marine) alleged that the Navy failed to award Tech Marine a strength for its transition plan.  The solicitation required the awardee to “begin work immediately and assume responsibility from the incumbent Contractor, if applicable, within 60 days after Task Order award.”  Tech Marine, the incumbent contract, explained that its transition plan exceeded the Navy’s schedule for workload turnover and that transition would be completed “well in advance of the 60–day requirement.”

Continue Reading GAO Breathes New Life into the Commonly Denied “Failure to Award a Strength” Protest Ground

Photo of John E. McCarthy Jr.Photo of Cherie OwenPhoto of Anuj Vohra

Protesters looking to challenge U.S. Government awards of “Other Transaction Agreements” (“OTAs”) face forum challenges—the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”), Court of Federal Claims (“COFC”), and federal district courts have all dismissed OTA protests for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, with GAO and the COFC concluding that OTAs are not procurement contracts.  But last week, in Hydraulics International, Inc. v. United States, the COFC held it could exercise jurisdiction over a challenge to an OTA award made in connection with a potential future procurement.

In Hydraulics, the Court considered a challenge to the Army’s award of an OTA for Aviation Ground Power Unit (“AGPU”) protypes used to service military helicopters.  The Army invited offerors to respond to a Request for Enhanced Whitepapers (“RWP”), which contemplated awards to two companies for the “base effort” of one prototype AGPU.  The RWP instructed that the base-effort award “may result in the award of a follow-on production contract for over 150 AGPUs without the use of competitive procedures.”

Continue Reading Sometimes, the Court of Federal Claims Does Consider OTA Protests

Photo of Christian CurranPhoto of Rob Sneckenberg

Crowell & Moring’s “All Things Protest” podcast keeps you up to date on major trends in bid protest litigation, key developments in high-profile cases, and best practices in state and federal procurement. In this episode, hosts Christian Curran and Rob Sneckenberg highlight a recent GAO decision in which an agency’s limited record production went a

Photo of Amy Laderberg O'SullivanPhoto of Anuj VohraPhoto of Rob SneckenbergPhoto of Cherie Owen

After a recent Court of Federal Claims (“COFC”) decision limited the circumstances under which a departure of key personnel may doom an offeror’s proposal, an even more recent GAO decision might have swung the pendulum right back. In Sehlke Consulting, LLC, GAO sustained a protest because the agency failed to penalize the awardee when a proposed key person employed under the incumbent contract provided notice that he planned to resign. Even though the key person was still employed on the date of award, GAO held that the agency’s failure to consider his “prospective unavailability” for the follow-on contract undermined the contract award.

The following dates were relevant:

  • Performance of the follow-on contract was scheduled to begin February 1, 2022.
  • On January 11, 2022, one of the awardee’s proposed key personnel (who was then an employee of a subcontractor on the incumbent contract) announced that he planned to resign effective January 28, 2022. The awardee timely notified the Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (“COTR”) for the incumbent contract.
  • On January 25, 2022, the agency completed its evaluations and awarded the contract.
  • On January 28, 2022—after award but before performance was to begin—the key person’s resignation became effective.


Continue Reading GAO Finds Key Person “Unavailable” Despite Still Being Employed on Date of Award

Photo of Christian CurranPhoto of Zachary Schroeder

Crowell & Moring’s “All Things Protest” podcast keeps you up to date on major trends in bid protest litigation, key developments in high-profile cases, and best practices in state and federal procurement. In this episode, Crowell attorneys Christian Curran and Zachary Schroeder discuss a recent GAO case (K&K Industries, Inc., B-420422; B-420422.2, March 7,

Photo of John E. McCarthy Jr.Photo of Zachary Schroeder

While there’s no harm in gathering as much information as possible before filing a protest, would-be protesters must pay careful attention to GAO’s timeliness regulations. In K&K Industries, Inc., B-420422; B-420422.2, March 7, 2022, GAO highlighted the risk of attempting to unilaterally extend a debriefing beyond the Department of Defense (DOD) enhanced debriefing window.

Photo of Rob SneckenbergPhoto of Christian CurranPhoto of Anuj VohraPhoto of Cherie Owen

Crowell & Moring’s “All Things Protest” podcast keeps you up to date on major trends in bid protest litigation, key developments in high-profile cases, and best practices in state and federal procurement. In this episode, Crowell attorneys discuss their recent “Feature Comment,” published in The Government Contractor, discussing the recent Court of Federal

Photo of Olivia LynchPhoto of Monica DiFonzo SterlingPhoto of Issac SchabesPhoto of Zachary Schroeder

In a February 11, 2022 decision, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (Court) dismissed for lack of interested party status a post-award protest filed by Colsa Corp. (Colsa) in which it challenged the status eligibility of other offerors.

In September 2018, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) issued a solicitation seeking a single contractor to provide

Photo of Olivia LynchPhoto of Rob Sneckenberg

Crowell & Moring’s “All Things Protest” podcast keeps you up to date on major trends in bid protest litigation, key developments in high-profile cases, and best practices in state and federal procurement. In this episode, hosts Olivia Lynch and Rob Sneckenberg interview in-house counsel from LMI, Adele Navarrete, about organizational conflicts of interest.

Listen