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The good, bad and ugly of bid protests

A review of the comments to my blog asking about the increase in bid protests shows varying degrees of cynicism and outrage.

Some are blaming corporate greed, while others targeted poor government practices. Many are asking some of the same questions I have – what’s really behind the increase?

As Rich Wilkinson wrote: “More protests are being filed, but percentage-wise, even more are being dismissed without a substantive review. And, even fewer are successful. That tells me that protests as a strategy are not about prevailing, they're about gaining some other kind of advantage. The question is ... What?”

One commenter seemed the answer that question when he wrote that protests are a way of gaining intelligence. BF wrote: “Even an unsuccessful protest gains a company infinitely more insight as to why they lost. Those lessons can be invaluable on the next attempt.”

But greed was a theme of several commenters.

From Anonymous:
“They are just doing this for spite and to milk the government for more money while they can.”

From Interested Party:
“Firms are being advised by their legal staff that they should protest if they are the incumbent because the government has come to rely on the service and that they will get a contract extension while the case is resolved. There is so little cost associated with lodging the initial protest that they have no skin in the game, other than the profits they will get from a year or so extension.”

Several commenters also laid the blame with the government.

An anonymous commenter: “The government could avoid some protests simply by providing an in-person, thorough debriefing. This is not the case on enough occasions, notwithstanding FAR requirements. When the government cannot explain its rationale for an award, one must protest to get to the bottom of the story.”

Another anonymous commenter: “Protests are increasing because, with too few able federal contracting officers, chronic weakness in the government's ability to state its requirements clearly, and frequent departures from the stated evaluation criteria by decision-makers, there is more reason to question and protest procurement decisions.”

We’re continuing to cover this topic, including a new piece today on the bid protest process. Don’t hesitate to join the discussion.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Oct 27, 2009 at 12:14 PM


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