Today we continue with Part 5 of our series on Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) bid protests by taking a look at How to Prepare Your Bid Protest.  To see where we’ve already been in the series, you can take a look back at Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Unlike some other legal proceedings and forums, there is no one correct way to prepare a GAO bid protest.  That is to say that there is no one particular format or style that contractors must follow, or else run the risk of having the filing rejected.  So, there is a certain amount of freedom in how your bid protest can be prepared and structured.

Formatting aside, there is certain information that every protest must include in order to be considered by the GAO.  These items are specifically spelled out by the GAO in its rules and regulations:

• The protest must include identifying information for the protester, including its name, street address, e-mail, and telephone and fax numbers;

• The protest must be signed by the protester (or its representative);

• The protest must identify the government agency and the solicitation and/or contract at issue;

• The protest must include a “detailed statement” of its legal and factual bases, including attaching relevant documents, when needed;

• The protest must establish standing as an interested party;

• The protest must establish that it is timely filed with the GAO; and

• The protest must specifically request a ruling by the Comptroller General of the United States, including a statement regarding the form of relief being requested.

Once prepared, your protest can be filed in a number of ways, such as: hand delivery, U.S. mail, fax, and email. One advantage to filing through email (beyond pure convenience) is that you can rely on a real-time notice of receipt as proof of filing.

In short, the GAO does not put form over substance for filing bid protests.  So long as you include all of the required information, your protest can be presented in just about any way you like. We find that the key is to get to the “meat” of the protest as quickly as possible – a protest should state up front the nature of the agency’s error and how you were harmed.  The procedural filler (while still required) can wait until later.

Tune back in next week when we take on the GAO’s Practices and Procedures in Part 6 of this series.