Critical Read

Bid protest problems overblown, says former OFPP head

handshake

What: A new research paper on federal bid protests for the American Bar Association by Dan Gordon, former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

Why: Bid protests are not as common as believed and could be more asset than liability to U.S. federal procurement, according to Gordon, who is now associate dean for government procurement law at George Washington University.

The Government Accountability Office counts federal bid protests in such a convoluted way, says Gordon, that the protest process is perceived to be overly complex and extensive. Specifically, his 49-page report says that between pre- and post-award protests, as well as supplemental filings in between, the GAO is double or even triple-counting some contract protests. That inflated count, says Gordon, can result in a perception that tens of thousands of protests filed each year.

Gordon asserts that the total number of protests is no more than a couple of thousand a year. Crunching government numbers, he calculates that in 2006 only 1.92 protests resulted from each $1 billion in federal procurement spending. In 2011 the number was a bit higher, 2.74 per $1 billion.

Additionally, using data from a total of 200,000 Air Force contracts in 2008, Gordon concludes that only ½ of 1 percent of all government contracts are actually protested.

Verbatim: "Since the days when protest filings were tracked on 3 x 5 cards, the GAO has counted cases in a manner that can cause people to believe that protest numbers are higher than they actually are."

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1996, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

  • Shutterstock image.

    Merged IT modernization bill punts on funding

    A House panel approved a new IT modernization bill that appears poised to pass, but key funding questions are left for appropriators.

  • General Frost

    Army wants cyber capability everywhere

    The Army's cyber director said cyber, electronic warfare and information operations must be integrated into warfighters' doctrine and training.

  • Rising Star 2013

    Meet the 2016 Rising Stars

    FCW honors 30 early-career leaders in federal IT.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group