Monday, January 6, 2014

GAO Releases 2013 Report on Bid Protest Activities

The GAO issued its fiscal year 2013 annual report on bid protests last week. You can read the entire report here. Some of the highlights from that report follows:

Overall, the number of cases filed to 2,429, a two percent drop from fiscal year 2012. The GAO made no attribution as to the reason for the drop. It could be because fewer contracts were awarded or because the Government is doing better at awarding contracts. Any reduction is progress but that number is still 72 percent higher than the number of filings just six years ago.

Of the decisions issued by GAO, 17 percent sustained appeals and 83 percent denied appeals. The most prevalent reasons for sustaining protests were:

  1. failure to follow the solicitation evaluation criteria
  2. inadequate documentation of the record
  3. unequal treatment of offerors
  4. unreasonable price or cost evaluation

It would have been interesting to know the primary reasons for not sustaining an appeal but unfortunately, this report did not provide that information.

A significant number of protest filed with the GAO do not reach a decision on the merits because agencies voluntarily take corrective action in response to the protest rather than defend the protest on the merits. Agencies need not, and do not, report any of the myriad reasons they decide to take voluntary corrective action.

The report discusses the "effectiveness rate". The effectiveness rate is a percentage of all protests closed during the fiscal year where the protestor obtained some form of relief from the agency, either as a result of voluntary agency corrective action or GAO sustaining the protest. In 2013, the effectiveness rate was 43 percent and this percentage has held fairly constant for the past five years.

Finally, the report includes data on the use of ADR (Alternative Disputes Resolution). Of the protests filed with the GAO, the parties agreed to utilize ADR processes for 145 of those cases. The percentage of cases resolved in that process totaled 86 percent. The GAO report did not provide any details as to how those cases were resolved but its likely that both parties got something.

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