The recent federal appropriations bill requires GAO to “establish and operate an electronic filing and document dissemination system” for all bid protests. In addition, GAO has been provided the option of charging a filing or administrative fee in order to offset the cost of the electronic filing system.
This appears to be a long-term endeavor by the GAO as it will take time to develop and implement an electronic filing system that meets GAO’s needs. Similar new electronic filing systems implemented by various courts and administrative boards commonly take months, if not years to implement. Currently, GAO allows bid protest pleadings and documents to be filed by hand delivery, mail, commercial carrier, facsimile transmission, or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An electronic filing system is badly needed at GAO as the number of GAO bid protest has approximately doubled in the last ten years. Further, GAO does not disseminate any of the pleadings or documents that it receives from the bid protest parties, and instead requires the bid protestors, intervenors, and procuring agencies to ensure timely dissemination of their pleadings and documents to the other parties. This current system of document dissemination is oftentimes slow, inefficient, and ripe for abuse by the parties. The current GAO filing and document dissemination system is in need of significant streamlining, which the electronic filing system will presumably provide.
The GAO has not specified whether it will charge a filing fee or what that fee will be in the event it is implemented. GAO’s market research from two years ago indicated that a $250 filing fee would be appropriate, however, GAO has not committed to establishing a fee system at this point. Currently, there is no cost to file, defend against, or to intervene in a GAO bid protest.
Doug Hibshman is a partner in Fox Rothschild LLP’s Federal Government Contracts and Procurement, Construction, and Infrastructure Practice Groups in Washington, DC, and routinely represents federal contractors in GAO bid protest matters.