Bid protests come with many moving parts and issues to consider. From documenting the government’s error, to scheduling a debriefing, to figuring out how and when to file — time can start to move pretty quickly.
While all of those issues are undoubtedly important – we here at Fox find that it is best to always start by taking a step back and looking at the big picture. And what is the most important question for any government contractor considering a bid protest? How to win and get the contract!
The goal of any bid protest should be on correcting the government’s error and making sure that your business gets the contract that it deserves. There are several paths available, but they are not all created equal – and they certainly are not “one size fits all.” The different protest venues (the primary three being: Agency Level protests, GAO protests, and Court of Federal Claims protests) each offer different pros and cons – and your choice of venue can have a very real impact on your businesses’s protest experience.
Today, we are highlighting winning strategies for GAO bid protests. The GAO exists exclusively as a venue for resolving government procurement errors. Unlike a traditional court setting, the GAO is built for speed and efficiency – the goal in each GAO protest is to reach a final resolution within 100 days from the date of filing.
The GAO model for resolving protests certainly has its advantages – most notably, your case can be resolved quickly and for a relatively low cost. However, that speed and efficiency comes at a price. There is very little in the way of due process or discovery before the GAO – meaning that protests are typically decided based on the face of the protest itself.
With these considerations in mind, we recommend GAO bid protests as the ideal forum resolving protests involving open and obvious government errors – in other words, procurement mistakes that can be easily understood and corrected. Under those circumstances, the GAO offers the best and quickest avenue to filing a winning protest and getting the contract award for your company.
On the other hand, if your protest involves complex factual or legal issues, the GAO probably is not right for you. Typically, there just is not enough time for the case to fully develop – and the GAO will tend to lean on the government’s discretion when it views the case as a close call. For those kinds of bid protests, we recommend filing a complaint in the Court of Federal Claims, which operates more like a traditional court and allows the time to fully flesh out a complicated case.
We invite you to take a look at our Guide to Winning GAO Bid Protests, which offers a complete rundown on the types of cases best suited for the GAO.