On November 1, 2022, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) published its Annual Report to Congress, which contains the statistics for bid protests filed at GAO in Fiscal Year 2022. We have highlighted below several items worth noting from our review of the GAO’s report.

Continue Reading GAO’s FY 2022 Bid Protest Statistics: GAO Protest Filings and Sustain Rates Continue to Decline, but Effectiveness Rates and Alternative Resolutions Continue to Climb

In the first two parts of this series, we have summarized what constitutes an Organizational Conflict of Interest (“OCI”) in government procurements, and discussed OCIs’ importance in the bid protest arena. But lest you think that, having passed the protest hurdle, you are now free from all harm caused by having an OCI, we now address potential post-award liability stemming from undisclosed and unmitigated OCIs. Contractors found to have undisclosed and unmitigated OCIs, that either existed before award or arose thereafter, can face a variety of bad outcomes—contract termination, suspension or debarment, and liability for fraud under the False Claims Act (“FCA”). Recall that OCIs come in three forms:

Continue Reading Organizational Conflicts of Interest – Part 3: The Next Target for FCA Enforcement

We all know that failure to submit your bid proposal on time typically results in rejection. And the list of exceptions to this “late is late” rule is very short, providing only four notable exceptions: (1) an offeror has acceptable evidence of government control of a proposal; (2) an offeror can establish a systemic failure of government procedures resulting in multiple instances of lost information; (3) if electronically submitted, a proposal was received by government infrastructure by 5:00 p.m. one working day prior to the proposal submission date; and (4) if there is only one offeror. But what if you submitted your proposal on time and the agency’s server rejects the submission without bothering to inform you? And what if the basis for rejection was an undisclosed limitation within a server on email size? Does such delay qualify as an exception to the “late is late” rule? The answer depends on which forum you ask.

Continue Reading The Gap Widens Between COFC and GAO on Late is Late Rule

Last month, we began our three-part series on organizational conflicts of interests (“OCIs”) with an article discussing the different types of OCIs and how they can be mitigated. Now, in Part 2 of our series, we analyze how OCIs arise in bid protests. First, we explain how the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) and the Court of Federal Claims (“COFC”) review OCI protests. Then, we examine scenarios where OCI protests have been sustained, followed by a synopsis of OCI protest grounds that (almost) always will be denied. Finally, we conclude with a summary of key points to consider when faced with an OCI issue that arises during a bid protest.

Continue Reading Organizational Conflicts of Interests – Part 2: OCIs in Bid Protests

You might be wondering, “What’s so important about Organizational Conflicts of Interest (“OCIs”)?” The answer is fairly simple: understanding both what causes OCIs and how to mitigate them are critical because unmitigated OCIs can preclude a contractor from (1) competing for future contract work, (2) performing certain tasks under existing contracts, (3) transferring personnel between company organizations, (4) hiring personnel, (5) teaming with certain vendors, and/or (6) entering into certain corporate transactions. Moreover, undisclosed or unmitigated OCIs can create risk of liability under the False Claims Act. In this Part 1 of a three part series, we offer a summary of what creates OCIs and general mitigation strategies. In Part 2, we will detail how OCIs arise in protests, and in Part 3, we will address the risks of False Claims Act liability arising from undisclosed OCIs.

Continue Reading Organizational Conflicts of Interest – Part 1: A Refresher on OCIs

On March 18, 2022, the Department of Defense (“DOD”) issued its long-awaited Final Rule implementing Section 818 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (“NDAA FY 2018”), and formally codifying defense contractors’ rights to post-award enhanced debriefings. Contractors have been bound by a Class Deviation implementing these requirements since March 2018, with DOD only issuing its proposed rule in May 2021. Though the Final Rule largely tracks the proposed rule, it does include several important clarifications, and, of course, directly impacts timeliness rules for filing post-award protests of DOD awards at the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”).
Continue Reading The Impact of DOD’s Enhanced Debriefings Rule on Bid Protest Timeliness

It is that time of year again when the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) submits its bid protest statistics to Congress as mandated under the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984, 31 U.S.C. §3554(e)(2).  On November 16, 2021, the GAO released its Bid Protest Annual Report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2020.  It has been a year of ups and downs, but, importantly, the chances of winning have stayed the same.

Continue Reading Everything Changes, Except That Which Stays the Same: GAO’s Bid Protest Annual Report to Congress

Many small businesses learn the hard way that a “bid protest” and a “size protest” differ in much more than name only. Whereas generally a “bid protest” challenges agency action taken in connection with a procurement and can be timely brought at the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) or in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (“COFC”) after award, a “size protest” challenges an offeror’s eligibility as “small” for a small business set-aside and must be filed with the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) within 5 days of contract award; otherwise, a disappointed offeror will forfeit its right to challenge the awardee’s size. While this consequential distinction may seem clear in a vacuum, a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”) demonstrates that distinguishing between a “bid protest” and a “size protest” may not always be so easy. Instead, the Federal Circuit’s decision leaves open the possibility that even when a timely size protest was not filed with the SBA, a disappointed offeror still may be able to challenge the contracting officer’s failure to refer an awardee of a small business set-aside to the SBA for a size status determination by filing a bid protest at the COFC.

Continue Reading “What’s In A Name?”: Federal Circuit Holds Claims Court Blurred Distinction Between ‘Size Protests’ And ‘Bid Protests’ In Dismissal For Failure To Exhaust Administrative Remedies

Ignore our prior prediction—the U.S. Court of Federal Claims definitely is NOT remanding the protest by Medline Industries, Inc. (“Medline Protest’) to the agencies for corrective action.  In a surprisingly scathing opinion issued June 22, 2021 by Judge David A. Tapp, the court made one thing very clear—the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (“VA”) transfer of its Medical Surgical Prime Vendor (“MSPV 2.0”) requirements to the Defense Logistics Agency (“DLA”) is dead on arrival.  After issuing a brief order on June 17 denying remand to the agencies for corrective action, the court detailed its reasoning in an opinion issued in a parallel protest filed by Owens & Minor Distribution, Inc. challenging (slightly) different aspects of the shifting MSPV 2.0 procurement (“O&M Protest”).  The government had moved for remand in both protests, and because the Medline Protest and O&M Protest involved the same parties and many common operative facts, the court issued a single opinion denying remand in both—and telegraphing that the outlook for the government in both cases is grim.  Piling on, the court took a few shots at the government for its litigation conduct and (more generally) its lack of acquisition planning.

Continue Reading Duck Hunt – The VA Cannot Escape The Medline Protest, And Takes A Few Shots In The Process

In its most recent attempt to strike the appropriate balance between the Veterans First and AbilityOne programs, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) issued on May 20, 2019 a class deviation to the VA Acquisition Regulations (“VAAR,” 48 C.F.R. Chapter 8), instructing contracting officers to conduct a “Rule of Two” analysis before procuring from the AbilityOne Procurement List.
Continue Reading Veterans Are First at the VA Following New Class Deviation Implementing Recent Federal Circuit Mandate

On November 27, 2018, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) released its Bid Protest Annual Report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2018.

Under the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 (“CICA”), GAO is required to report annually to Congress on each instance in which (1) a federal agency did not fully implement a recommendation made by GAO in connection with a bid protest decision, or (2) a final decision in a protest was not rendered within 100 days after the date the protest was submitted to the Comptroller General, during the prior fiscal year. GAO reported no such instances for Fiscal Year 2018.
Continue Reading GAO Annual Report On Bid Protests: 2018 Yields More Protests, More Merit Decisions, But Fewer Sustains and Fewer Hearings