Contracting

GAO sustains more protests in 2016

Shutterstock image: checking documents. 

The Government Accountability Office saw a spike in the number of bid protests filed in fiscal year 2016.

The office told Congress in its annual report on bid protests that it received 2,789 protest filings between Oct. 1, 2015 and Sept. 30, 2016. In fiscal 2015, GAO received 2,639, which was a three percent increase from the year before that. The 2015-2016 increase was six percent.

GAO explained that it records each filing as separate, even if protesters file supplemental protest or multiple parties protest the same procurement action.

During fiscal year 2016, GAO said it received 2,789 cases, including  2,621 protests, 80 cost claims, and 88 requests for reconsideration.

The large majority of cases don't get decided on the merits by GAO, because they are either dismissed on jurisdictional or procedural grounds or the agency involved takes corrective action. GAO decided 616 protests on the merits, and sustained 139 of those protests for a sustain rate of 22 percent. That rate is up from 12 percent in FY 2015, when GAO sustained 68 of 587 cases that were decided on the merits.

The most common factors in sustaining protests were complaints about technical evaluation, past performance evaluation, cost or price evaluation and flawed selection decision.

According to an analysis by Washington law firm Wiley Rein, the percentage increase in protests was the largest year-over-year increase since fiscal 2010, when they increased by 16 percent.

Wiley Rein also said that protesters that filed at least one supplemental protest had an 80 percent greater chance of their protest being sustained compared to other protests that produce a GAO final decision without any supplements.

Although the sustain rate varied among agencies, the Department of Homeland Security had the lowest rate, while the General Services Administration had the highest in fiscal 2016.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

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.


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