In recent years, as private work has become more scare, the competition for public projects has increased. In turn, so have the number of bid disputes challenging the awards of those public contracts. Since 2006, the number of bid protest filed with the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) has nearly doubled from approximately 1,300 protest filed in 2006 to over 2,400 filed in 2012.
The rules for challenging a contract award and bringing a bid protest depends on the whether the contract is a federal, state, or local government contract. This blog post gives an overview filing a bid protest for a federal government contract.
Where: Disappointed bidders on a contract being let by a federal government agency have a choice of filing a bid protest in four different places: (1) the agency giving the award; (2) the GAO; (3) the Court of Federal Claims; and (4) the disappointed bidders local federal district court.
Each forum has it pros and cons. However, the GAO is by far the most popular forum for filing a bid protest on a federal contract award because of the detailed rules for hearing and disposing of the protest and the speed at which the matter is disposed of. Indeed, the GAO will rule on a bid protest within 100 days of a bid protest being filed with it. Moreover, with few exceptions, a claim filed with the GAO results in an automatic stay of award of the contract subject to the dispute.
When: A post-award bid protest must be filed with the GAO within ten (10) days. While there is no set time frame for filing a bid protest with either the Court of Federal Claims or a local federal district court, because bid protest filed there seek preliminary injunctive relief, they should be filed as soon as possible. In fact, any delay in filing a bid protest with the federal court may result in the claim being denied.