A bid protest is the last administrative step that can be taken before the contract is finally awarded or the matter moves to state or federal court.
Federal agencies are required to award government contracts in accordance with numerous acquisition laws and regulations. If a bidder on a government contract believes that an agency has violated procurement law or regulation in a solicitation for goods or services, or in the award of a contract, it may file a bid protest. Most states have their own competitive bidding requirements and their own procedures for filing bid protests, as well.
Federal regulations allow the filing of the bid protest by email, fax, mail, or hand delivery. The GAO will be moving to a new system using an internet gateway for filings and a new $350 filing fee. State procedures vary, but one of the more common is the filing first of a notice of intent to protest within a few days after the notice of intent to award is released. Then, a formal bid protest is filed in a week to 10 days, which is akin to a civil complaint in a lawsuit. Again, regulations vary, but state protestors often have to attach all the documents they intend to use as evidence to the bid protest itself.
The federal GAO bid protest process was created to be relarively inexpensive and bidders are not required to use an attorney to file the protest. States, on the other hand, vary in the complexity of their bid protest framework. Not all require protests to be filed by an attorney and, in some states, non-attorneys can even appear and advocate on behalf of their clients during the bid protest evidentiary hearing.
If you have questions. about bid protests, contact us.
Protests in a Nutshell
There are two kinds of bid protests: pre-bid and post-bid. A pre-bid protest challenges some aspect of the bid itself, like when a bid document is written in such a way that only a single proposer in the whole world could meet all the criteria.
A post-bid protest comes after the notice of intent to award is released. Here, a losing bidder challenges the winning bidder based on shortcomings in that winning bid. Or it could also be based on the evaluation process itself. In one case we worked on, we successfully protested where we found out that the head of the winning bidder had taken members of the evaluation committee to a strip club while the bid was ongoing. We forced a reevaluation with a new committee, with the ultimate award being given to our client.
Under federal and state bidding regulations, the time to file a notice of intent to protest can be short -- sometimes as little as three days.
We can help you evaluate whether a bid protest is warranted and help you put together a team to take it on.
Or, if a bid protest has been filed against you, we can evaluate the protestor’s submission. One of the cardinal rules of bid protests is that a protestor can’t complain about the same shortcomings in their own proposal.
But the best defense of bid protest is writing a proposal that can’t be challenged in the first place. We can help make you bullet-proof.