A protest is a written objection by an interested party to an alleged irregularly or impropriety in a contract solicitation or award, cancellation of a solicitation, or a termination or cancellation of an award. An interested party is one that has a direct economic interest in the outcome of the protest and is usually an actual or prospective bidder or offeror. 2. Who can protest?
Only interested parties may file protests. Interested parties are those with direct economic interest. In protests against solicitations, an interested party is usually a potential bidder or offeror for the contract. For protests about the award, an interested parties are mostly bidders or offerors that did not win the contract. The GAO also considers other factors, such as the bidder’s standing in the competition and the nature of the issues raised when determining whether the protest qualifies as an interested party. In the case of A-76 conversions without competition, the GAO has stated that a representative of the affected federal employees may also file a protest.
3. What are the three venues open to protestors
The least formal, expensive, and time-intensive venue for a protest is the agency contracting officer. The FAR requires the agency to engage their best efforts to resolve protests at the CO level. The protestor can request an independent review of the matter at a level above the CO. This review can be done by the senior procurement attorney, chief counsel, or ombudsman. The deadline for filing protests with the agency for solicitations is before the bid opening of the time set for proposal receipts. The deadline for award protests is no later than 10 days after the interested party knew or should have known the basis of the protest.
The next level of protest is the GAO Comptroller General. The Comptroller General will not hear protests involving NAICS, size standards issues, or various other issues but focuses solely on improprieties in the solicitation, award, cancellation, or termination such as evaluations not conducted in accordance with the solicitation, deficient or defective solicitations, and unfair competitive advantage situations. The deadline for filing a protest with the Comptroller General for solicitations or bid openings is before the bid opening or date of receipt of proposals. All other protests must be filed within 10 calendar days of notice of the alleged adverse action. The GAO has ruled that if an offeror or bidder knew of a defect during the solicitation period but submitted a bid or proposal anyway, the defect cannot be protested. GAO