In a recently published report, the GAO stated that there was a 20% increase in bid protests in FY 2009, as compared to FY 2008.
As protest regulations have evolved, the government has seen a steady increase in the number of protests since FY 2006, but this increase from 1,652 protests in FY 2008 to 1,989 protests in FY 2009 appears especially noteworthy. The GAO, however, stated that this increase was expected for three reasons. First, the option to protest task order opportunities was granted due to the growing use of contract vehicles such as EAGLE, NETCENTS, and SeaPort; second, federal employees were allowed to protest the decision to outsource requirements; and finally, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) opportunities became susceptible to bid protests in FY 2009. Previously, TSA fell under the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) regulatory procedures. Below is a chart depicting the GAO Bid Protest statistics in recent years:
GAO Bid Protest statistics for FY 2005 through FY 2009
|Filed based on Merit (Sustain/Deny decisions)||315||291||335||251||306|
|Number of Sustains||57||60||91||72||71|
Below is a list of current or recently determined opportunities that have been affected by the surge of bid protests. For TSA's Information Technology Infrastructure Program (ITIP) in particular, the awarded contractor has endured numerous work stoppages because of management authority disputes in protest handling between GAO and TSA. These delays can and have caused major funding issues in the form of bridge contracts and extensions until a final decision is made:
|SBINet Program Integration and Management Support Services||CBP/DHS||$98,000||Protest|
|Field Office Support Services||USCIS/DHS||$120,175||Protest|
|Public Assistance and Technical Assistance Contracts (PA-TAC)||FEMA/DHS||$500,000||Protest|
|Material Management, Unit Readiness Mission & Distribution Management Center||Army Sustainment Command||$128,124||Protest|
|Goddard Unified Enterprise Services and Technology (GUEST)||NASA||$85,000||Protest|
As bid protests on federal contract awards are likely to continue increasing, the need to shorten the process will also increase. Bid protests can extend the timeframe for award up to 6 months with the net results being delays in program schedule, fiscal complications, and general strain among government and private personnel. If protests are to be minimized, contracting personnel will likely have to take extra steps when sole-sourcing and/or assigning the competition type. They will also undoubtedly be stricter when evaluating proposals resulting in vendors having to be as clear, concise and accurate as possible during the bid and proposal process.
Andrew Endicott also contributed to this report.