Monday, October 15, 2018

You Cannot Protest an Award Until After the Government Debriefing

Celeris Systems filed a bid protest with the GAO (Government Accountability Office) over the award of a task order to a competitor, INDUS Technology. Celeris was the incumbent contractor on this particular work and argued that the Navy "misevaluated" its task order proposal.

The GAO dismissed the protest on the basis that it was premature.

GAO bid protest regulations preclude it from considering a protest challenging a procurement conducted on the basis of competitive proposals, where a debriefing is required , if the protest if filed before the debriefing date offered to the protester. Instead, protests should be filed not later than 10 days after the debriefing.

This rule is designed to:

  • encourage early and meaningful debriefings and
  • to preclude strategic or defensive protests.

In this case, Celeris's debriefing began on September 24th. Celeris then submitted questions to the Navy on September 26th, but then filed a bid protest on September 28th. The Navy filed a dismissal request on October 2nd, stating that it had not yet responded to Celeris's questions, thus the debriefing was not completed.

The GAO agreed with the Navy, ruling that the protest was premature until the conclusion of the entire debriefing process.

Celeris will have the chance to refile its protest within 10 days after the debriefing is completed. However, it is also possible that the Navy will conduct a "meaningful debriefing" making such a bid protest unnecessary. We'll have to wait and see on that one.

The complete GAO decision is available here.

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