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In this edition of Ask General Counsel, we pay homage to the Washington area’s number one business – the federal government. Specifically, we will discuss what you need to know about bid protests.
General Counsel, P.C.’s Government Contracts Practice Group, led by Craig Lawless, has represented government contractors for the past 17 years. During this time, General Counsel PC attorneys have helped clients with many bid protests and, in so doing, we developed the Bid Protest Weekly publication and website.
The Bid Protest Weekly allows the government contracting community to stay on top of the latest developments involving bid protests. In addition to the protest decisions blog, it provides the Bid Protest Education Center and a searchable keyword index allowing government contractors to search hundreds of topics to find prior decisions and guidance. If you have a question about a government contracts matter, the Bid Protest Weekly website provides an invaluable resource.
What is a bid protest?
Bid protests let you ensure your proposal gets a fair chance.
Government agencies enter into thousands of contracts each year. Each contract can have dozens of bidders. Federal agencies are required to award contracts in accordance with many laws and regulations. Agencies nearly always act in good faith, but in such a complicated environment, mistakes will happen. A bid protest is a formal process for informing either the agency or the Government Accounting Office (GAO) that you think they may have made one. It allows you and the agency involved to ensure that contracts are awarded fairly.
There are two main types of bid protests. “Pre-award” protests challenge the terms of the government solicitation, while “post-award” protests challenge the way the agency evaluated the bid and who was finally awarded the contract, with a few minor exceptions. A contractor that believes it may have been the victim of improprieties in the government contracting process has a number of different options for how to resolve the issue.
Who can file a bid protest? First, to file a post-award protest, you must represent a business that would be eligible for the award if the protest is sustained. This is an interested party. Second, what if I won the award and someone else protests my award?
If you’ve won the award, you have the right to have your attorney act as an intervenor in any protest. This means that your attorney can monitor the progress of the protest and assist the agency in defending the award. We always recommend that if you are awarded a contract you file an intervention to help protect it.