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Government bears brunt of bid-protest criticism

A recurring theme in many of the comments we’ve received this week on our bid-protest coverage is that the government is doing a poor job debriefing companies when they lose.

“Most bidders are very grateful of getting some feedback on their bid in order in improve their bid process. A big part of the problem is very few contracting officers simply do NOT want to be clear nor explain how they picked one particular bidder over another,” said Fred from Tuscon, Ariz.

“The desired scenario is one where there is trust in the effective implementation of the procurement process, with complete and informative debriefings, which more than anything will help eliminate the perceived need to file a protest in order to learn what actually happened,” added an anonymous commenter.

“I have seen debriefs become meaningless over the past few years. ‘You lost because the other company had a higher score. Thank you and please bid again next time.’ When pressed for ‘why did we score 7 out of 10?’ often the answer is ‘because that is how you were evaluated.’ Protesting seems to be the only way to find out if you lost based on the [evaluation] criteria or if there were other factors at play,” wrote another anonymous commenter.

Also getting their share of negative comments were lawyers:

“This increasingly popular process is a playground to support corporate lawyers,” wrote Steve.

One commenter raised the issue that there is a general misunderstanding of the protest process. “It would be inaccurate to deem all protests frivolous, just as it would be inaccurate to assume that all loses must be protested,” the commenter wrote.

Frivolous or not, you have to wonder what is going on if companies feel that they have to file a protest just to find out why they lost.

As several commenters have noted, there is little downside to filing a protest – it doesn’t cost much and it doesn’t seem to carry the stigma it did in years past.

In short, the protester has little to lose and much to gain.

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


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