Welcome back to the Blog as we continue our with 10-part Series on Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) bid protests with Part 8: GAO Bid Protest Document Requests.  In prior installments, we’ve covered the basics, including the who, what, when, and how of GAO bid protests.  Today, we’ll take a closer look at a particular aspect of bid protest that (when used properly) can be an extremely useful tool for contractors protesting government procurement errors.

GAO’s bid protest rules include a specific provision allowing protesters to request documents from the agency, provided that the requested documents are relevant to the protest.   The agency must respond to a protester’s document requests within 5 days of the due date for the Agency Report.  The protester then has an additional two days to object to the proposed scope of the agency’s document production.

At a minimum, the agency’s document production should include the following documents:

• The bid or proposal submitted by the protester concerning the contract;

• The relevant agency evaluation documents; and

• The subject solicitation (including amendments).

However, when used properly, a contractor can often frame specific requests based on the subject matter of the protest that will draw out even more information from the agency. Notably, documents produced by the agency during a protest can reveal additional information that can be used by the protester to bolster its protest – or even lead to new protest grounds that could not have previously been known by the protester. Additional legal and factual arguments drawn from agency documents are properly included in the protester’s comments to the Agency Report and/or supplemental protests.

As a final note on the subject of GAO bid protest document requests, bear in mind that fair is fair. The agency is equally entitled to request documents from a protester. If that happens, it is up to you to protect against over-reaching or irrelevant requests by the government.

We’re drawing near the finish line for this 10-part GAO Bid Protest Series – so tune in next week for Part 9, when we’ll cover GAO Protective Orders.