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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

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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

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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

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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

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In this episode, hosts Christian Curran and Rob Sneckenberg discuss a recent Federal Circuit decision holding than an offeror’s price proposal was materially incomplete simply because it failed to include government-provided plug numbers. Crowell & Moring’s “All Things Protest” podcast keeps you up to date on major trends in bid protest litigation, key developments in

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Offerors must be alert to the possibility of technology difficulties when electronically submitting a proposal for a federal procurement as the general rule regarding proposal submissions is that “late is late.”  GAO has heard countless cases in which proposal submission via email has presented complications.  Proposal submission via government portals has presented similar problems for offerors.

Recently, in People, Technology and Processes, LLC, B-419385, B-419385.2, Feb. 2, 2021, GAO heard a challenge to GSA’s rejection of a proposal from consideration for an order under OASIS.  The offeror, People, Technology and Processes or PTP, experienced technical difficulties while trying to submit the proposal via the GSA ASSIST online portal.  Although PTP was unable to submit its proposal, no systemic issues were reported with the portal and GSA timely received six proposals from other offerors.
Continue Reading Lessons Learned at GAO from Technical Difficulties Experienced While Submitting a Proposal on GSA’s ASSIST Portal

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In this episode, hosts Rob Sneckenberg and Olivia Lynch are joined by colleague Amy O’Sullivan to discuss the Court of Federal Claims’ recent decision in HWI Gear, Inc., which held that the solicitation’s inclusion in full of the text of FAR 52.219-28 required a small business offeror to recertify its size status prior to award

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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, Olivia Lynch, and Rob Sneckenberg analyze GAO’s 2020 Bid Protest Statistics and highlight procurement and protest trends

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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 Christian Curran are joined by colleague Eric Ransom to discuss issues surrounding emergency sole source procurements,

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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 are joined by colleague Michael Samuels to discuss recent developments in GAO’s Key Personnel