Changes to protest rules could shift contracting preferences

Shutterstock image (by Mascha Tace): business contract competition, just out of reach. 

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Barack Obama on Dec. 23 establishes thresholds for protests of task orders cut against large civilian and military indefinite-delivery contracts, which could push some defense contracts away from civilian agency contracting vehicles, according to a contracting expert.

The NDAA, said Paul Khoury, a partner at Washington, D.C., law firm Wiley Rein, restores the Government Accountability Office's ability to hear protests of task orders against civilian indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity  contracts over $10 million. The GAO's authority to hear civilian task order protests officially expired at the end of September.

The NDAA also allows GAO to hear protests of task orders against DOD IDIQs over $25 million.  The NDAA, Khoury said, bumped up the DOD contracting vehicle protest threshold from $10 million.

Although IDIQ awards between $10 million and $25 million tend to be smaller procurements, Khoury said, the difference could have an impact on how the Defense Department might use civilian IDIQ contracts such at the General Services Administration's IT Schedule 70 IDIQ and other large IDIQs.

If a DOD contract is between $10 and $25 million, according to Khoury, the department could opt to go with the military IDIQ with the higher task order protest threshold. But avoiding protests, he said, is only one factor in a larger pool of considerations in choosing a contracting vehicle.

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, 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 or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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