Last Tuesday, GAO released its Fiscal Year 2021 protest statistics, which as always contains a wealth of interesting information about GAO’s protest system.

  • Protest filings dropped by 12% from FY20.  After remaining fairly steady in FY19 and FY20, filings dropped in FY21, with the lowest number of cases filed since FY08.  It seems likely,

[This article was originally published in Law360.]

Amidst the whirlwind of M&A activity in the government contracts industry, a recent bid protest decision from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlights the importance of proper planning to protect prime contract proposals during M&A and other corporate transactions.  Last month, GAO denied a protest from ICI Services Corporation (ICI), which challenged the U.S. Navy’s decision to award a task order to Serco, Inc. (Serco) under the SeaPort Next Generation (SeaPort-NxG) vehicle.  Although ICI raised a “multitude of challenges,” GAO focused on what it considered the gravamen of ICI’s protest — that Serco was ineligible for award because it allegedly was not a complete successor-in-interest to the Naval Systems Business Unit (NSBU) of Alion Science and Technology Corporation (Alion).  Serco had acquired the NSBU from Alion in July 2019, and has been operating the NSBU in the several months since then.

For years, contractors have faced an amalgamation of protest decisions assessing the impact of transactions on proposals for new prime contracts.  The recent ICI decision provides some additional guidance and, more importantly, underscores GAO’s stated intent that its decisions not frustrate pending proposals merely because a corporate transaction has taken place or is expected to take place, but instead ensure that the procuring agency has reasonably considered the impact of the transaction and concluded that the resulting contract will be performed in materially the same way as described in the proposal.  In the absence clear guidance in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) on the treatment of bids in connection with a corporate transaction, GAO’s decision in ICI offers some clarity for contractors and a framework for agencies when assessing the impact of a transaction.  Although every transaction and proposal is unique, the ICI decision highlights some key considerations for contractors.
Continue Reading Buying a Business Without Losing the Pipeline: Further Guidance for Protecting Proposals

Federal civilian agencies will now face new restrictions on when and how they can use Lowest Price Technically Acceptable source selection procedures. A new rule in the Federal Acquisition Regulation is the latest in a series of measures aimed at regulating the use of LPTA source selection procedures. The new rule implements an October 2019 proposed rule and takes effect on February 16, 2021.
Continue Reading New FAR Rule Continues Shake-Up of LPTA Procurements

Although it is usually good news for a protester when an agency takes corrective action, the corrective action sometimes fails to adequately address the protest grounds.  When this occurs, a protester may wish to file a new protest challenging the agency’s corrective action.  The question of when to file a corrective action challenge is often tricky, however — and a misstep can result in dismissal.  GAO recently clarified that timing in Computer World Services Corporation.

Continue Reading GAO Clarifies Timing for Corrective Action Protests

It’s a big deal in the government contracts community whenever the Federal Circuit weighs in on a bid protest.  And it is a particularly big deal when the Federal Circuit issues a split opinion in a bid protest.  That’s what happened last week in Inserso Corporation v. United States (No. 2019-1933), where the Federal Circuit issued a split opinion denying a protest as waived under Blue & Gold.

Continue Reading Federal Circuit Splits on Blue & Gold Question in Inserso

Many government contractors are familiar with the well-established processes of federal bid protests.  Less known is the dizzying variety of procedures applicable to state and local bid protests, and a rule that is well-established in one jurisdiction may be nonexistent in another.  Although there are some unifying themes that pervade protest practice everywhere — namely,

As a result of novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and COVID-19, federal and state governments have a sudden and unanticipated need for more goods and services.  Some of those goods and services are highly specialized and specific to Coronavirus and COVID-19.  But governments also have an increased and urgent need to buy otherwise-routine goods and services that have become newly critical in the wake of COVID-19.

All of this means that there are and will be procurements where speed is the priority, and where there is no time for the normal pace and cadence of the procurement process and contract formation.  It also means that resources necessarily will get taken away from routine procurement tasks and reallocated to urgent matters.

Here are a few things to watch for:


Continue Reading The Likely Effects of COVID-19 on Contract Awards and Contract Formation

On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an opinion in Acetris Health, LLC v. United States, No. 2018-2399 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 10, 2020) (“Acetris”), that would permit pharmaceutical manufacturers to source a drug’s active pharmaceutical ingredient (“API”) from India, China and other non “designated countries” and yet still offer the end product for sale to the U.S. Government.  Under the Trade Agreements Act (“TAA”), if a drug’s API was sourced from outside of the United States or a designated country, at least some Government agencies previously had taken the position that the U.S. Government could not purchase it.  In Acetris, the Federal Circuit explained that the TAA inquiry should turn not on where the API (or some other component) is sourced, but instead on where the pill (or other end product) is manufactured.  Consistent with this approach, the court held that a pill manufactured in the United States was compliant with the TAA and implementing regulations even though the pill’s API was sourced from India.

Although the full implications of the Acetris decision are not yet clear, there is no doubt that the ruling alters the TAA compliance landscape and offers broader lessons outside of the pharmaceutical manufacturing context.  Consequently, the decision warrants close attention by contractors seeking to maximize supply chain efficiency.
Continue Reading A New Path to TAA Compliance: U.S.-Made End Products in Acetris

As previously discussed on this blog, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 and the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2018 imposed new limitations on when the Department of Defense can use Lowest Price Technically Acceptable source selection methods.  Just last month, the Department of Defense issued a final rule amending the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement to implement those provisions.  Now, in Inserso Corp., B-417791, B-417791.3, Nov. 4, 2019, GAO has weighed in on what counts as LPTA for purposes of those restrictions.  This decision may indicate a potentially significant limitation on the reach of the NDAA provisions, new DFARS rule, and proposed FAR rule.

Continue Reading What Is Lowest Priced Technically Acceptable? GAO Clarifies Reach of New LPTA Restrictions

Tight deadlines are a fact of life in the world of government contracting.  Indeed, it is not unusual for the government to expect a contractor to provide large amounts of information in just a few short days.  And the draconian penalty for missing such a deadline is usually the rejection of a proposal.

But can an agency’s deadline be unreasonably short?  Yes.  In MCR Federal, LLC, GAO determined that the agency’s deadline for submitting its final proposal revision (“FPR”) was so short that it deprived the protester of a fair opportunity to improve its proposal.


Continue Reading Not So Fast Guy: Recent GAO Decision Provides Rule For When Agency Deadlines Are Unreasonably Short