Problem with Government Contract Solicitation or Award Process? Consider Acting Immediately To Preserve Your Legal Rights
January 2, 2013 Leave a comment
The Situation: You bid on a big U.S. Government contract and just learned your competitor down the road won instead. You are shocked because this competitor just opened up for business a month ago, has no experience in contracting, and you heard they were even given a chance to revise and resubmit their bid, but you were never given that option. You’ve also seen this contractor hanging out in the same restaurants as the government’s contracting officer. You aren’t sure the award was unlawful, because you have no evidence, but you also aren’t sure the rules were properly followed. What can you do?
The Solution: You might be able to file a protest against the government agency that awarded the contract, but you should act immediately or you may lose your right to act, as some legal deadlines can pass very quickly.
Contractors who have lost bids and question the legality of the process, or who notice problems earlier in the process during the solicitation phase, before bids are even submitted, can file a protest in one of several forums, including federal courts, the relevant agency, or the General Accountability Office (GAO).
Each forum has its own rules and which one is best for you depends on your unique situation. Where you are located does not affect whether you may protest a government contract award. Whether you are in New York or Iraq, or Kuwait, or Germany, you may file a protest. An attorney can best evaluate whether you have a protest and where you should file.
The most important thing to remember, though, is you should consider acting quickly and contacting an attorney if you think you want to protest involving a solicitation or contract award. If you wait too long, you will lose your right to file a protest. For example, protests with the GAO involving the award itself must be filed within ten (10) days of the contract award. For protests involving the solicitation process before bids are submitted, the protest may have to be filed even before the proposal submission deadline.
The advantages of filing a protest in some cases include the government issuing a “stay” (an order sent to the government to stop issuance of a contract or an order sent to the winning contractor to stop work on the contract pending resolution of the protest).
If you win your protest, the remedies for a defective solicitation or contract award may include potential termination of the awarded contract, a re-bid of the contract, or a re-evaluation of the submitted bids and new award in accordance with the rules.
The attorney authors represent contractors in award protests against the U.S. government. For more information about our services for U.S. government contractors and subcontractors, see our Legal Services page or contact attorney-author Vonda Vandaveer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202)340-1215.