Did You Find Improprieties in the Contract Bidding or Award Process? Consider (Quickly) a Protest

The attorney-authors receive inquiries from contractors for the United States Government (USG) who complain a contract was awarded to a competitor unfairly.  Some contractors think there is nothing they can do about an unfair award by the USG.  That is wrong.  If you lost a contract award and believe the bidding process or award was unfair or may have violated the law, you can protest.

This article describes what a protest involves and the short deadlines involved with a protest– often, a 10-day deadline.  If you are potentially interested in a protest, read on, and make a prompt decision whether you will take action.

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Problem with Government Contract Solicitation or Award Process? Consider Acting Immediately To Preserve Your Legal Rights

Act Now

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 vonda@vkvlaw.com or (202)340-1215.

GAO Protest Win For Client: Army Agreed to Re-Evaluate Bids and Ordered to Pay Client Legal Fees

Some of our blog posts cover cases with contractors represented by the attorney-authors, including the case below.  The cases and articles we write serve as examples of the types of issues, settlements, awards, and verdicts obtained on behalf of our clients. The description below is not meant to explain all facets of the case, but to provide an idea of the type of contractor cases with which the attorney-authors have been involved.

 GAO Protest Win

Al Qabandi United Company; American General Trading & Contracting—Costs, B-310600.3,B-310600.4

Attorney Vandaveer obtained corrective action and attorney fees from the U.S. government on behalf of its client in Kuwait who protested the faulty award of a laundry services contract to another vendor. Ms. Vandaveer’s client, American General Trading & Contracting (AGT), along with another contractor, Al Qabandi United, filed protests involving this laundry contract, alleging the government failed to follow required bid evaluation procedures.

In response to the protests, the U.S. Army first attempted to seek dismissal, but was denied. Eventually, the Army agreed to take corrective action by re-evaluting the bids in accordance with required procedures.

Because the Army delayed taking corrective action, Ms. Vandaveer sought reimbursement from the U.S. government of her client’s attorney fees for pursuing the protest. The GAO granted the request and awarded AGT its protests costs. You can read a copy of the GAO decision here.

For more information about the legal services we provide to government contractors and subcontractors to primes, see our Legal Services page or contact us at vonda@vkvlaw.com.

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