Senate approves extension of task order protest rights

Friday - 5/13/2011, 3:53pm EDT

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The Senate yesterday approved the ability of vendors to protest task and delivery orders from civilian agencies worth more than $10 million to the Government Accountability Office for five more years.

The Independent Task and Delivery Order Review Extension Act of 2011 (S. 498), sponsored by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), also would give GAO exclusive jurisdiction over task order protests.

Congress gave vendors the ability to protest task orders to GAO in the fiscal 2008 Defense Authorization bill, and the provision is scheduled to sunset Sept. 30, 2011.

Lieberman introduced the extension earlier this year, and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the bill by voice vote in April.

"After reviewing the implementation of these provisions over the past three years, the committee has concluded that Congress should reauthorize GAO's expanded jurisdiction for another five years," said committee members in the report. "An increasing amount of taxpayer money has gone to fund task and delivery orders. Such orders now commonly exceed $100 million; indeed, GAO recently received protests of three task orders that each passed the $1 billion mark. Review of large task and delivery orders by GAO provides important oversight and discipline against abuse or other inappropriate use of IDIQ contracts, and the ability of interested parties to protest task and delivery orders promotes transparency, accountability, and competition in the expenditure of tax dollars through contracts."

Under this expanded authority, GAO reviewed 38 civilian task orders in fiscal 2009 and 65 in 2010, representing less than even one-tenth of one percent of all task orders awarded by civilian agencies during those years.

Congress approved the extension through 2016 for the Defense Department last year as part of the 2011 Defense Authorization Act.

Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) sponsored companion legislation. It passed the Oversight and Government Reform Committee in March and awaiting a vote from the full House.

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