Protests occur when an offeror disagrees with the Government about a contract award or a perceived procedural violation in the contract award process. A protest may be made on any type of Government procurement. Most protests assert that an offeror has been or will be wrongfully excluded from consideration for award. Protests can be filed with the agency, the General Accounting Office (GAO), or the GSA Board of Contract Appeals (GSBCA).
- Suspending, revoking, or revising the agency's procurement authority
- Terminating the contract
- Withholding exercise of options under the contract
- Asking for new best and final offers
- Issuing a new solicitation
- Awarding protest costs, bid or proposal preparation costs, and attorney's fees
- Awarding the contract to the protestor.
These are serious consequences and may prevent the agency from acquiring and using software until the protest is resolved. Thus, the agency must consider how to prevent or defend against a protest during every phase of the acquisition process. Every major decision and requirement must be reviewed in terms of a potential protest. Many protests can be avoided by intelligent analysis and anticipation of the potential impact of the decisions made in developing and executing the acquisition.
To avoid protests, the agency should:
- Eliminate unnecessarily restrictive software requirements
- Clearly state what the contractor must provide
- Develop fair and meaningful evaluation criteria
- Provide all potential offerors with the same information
- Develop and follow an explicit source selection plan
- Document all decisions made throughout the acquisition life-cycle
- Follow all pertinent Government and agency laws, regulations, and procedures
- Review past GSBCA and GAO protest rulings.