DoD facing fewer bid protests

Wednesday - 4/15/2009, 2:06pm EDT

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
FederalNewsRadio

Fewer companies are protesting contract awards made by the Defense Department over the last five years.

Between 2004 and 2008, the Government Accountability Office found the number of protests hovered between 458 and 611, while DoD spending increased to $365 billion from $292 billion.

In a report to Congress issued April 14, GAO says over the last five years DoD has faced fewer bid protests than it did historically. The audit agency says between 1989 and 1997 a minimum of 917 vendors protested DoD awards.

In 2008, GAO says the number of protests rose by almost 24 percent over the year before. But GAO credits that increase, in part, to the change in its jurisdiction that Congress approved. GAO now can hear protests of task orders worth more than $10 million.

"The somewhat higher number of DoD procurements protested to GAO needs to be put in the context of the increase in DoD procurement spending over the past few years," GAO states.

"From 2007 to 2008 alone, DoD procurement spending increased 15.7 percent. These similar rates of increase may suggest that the increase in protests was due in part to DoD's increase in procurement spending."

Across the rest of the government, GAO found that bid protests increased by 17 percent in 2008 as compared to 2007.

GAO says bid protests are not slowing down DoD to the extent some may think.

It found that it closes more than 50 percent of all protests involving DoD within 30 days, and the rest are resolved within 100 days-as required by law.

Congress in the 2009 Defense Authorization bill required GAO to conduct this study to determine whether bid protests, especially those considered frivolous or improper, are increasing and if there is anything GAO would like Congress to do about them.

GAO says it did not look at frivolous protests because it has no way to determine if the complaint falls into this category.

"GAO's existing bid protest process provides a balanced approach to adjudicate and resolve challenges brought by protesters…" GAO states.

"We do not believe that GAO requires additional authority to dismiss protests, and we are not seeing such further authority."

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On the Web:

FederalNewsRadio -- GAO tracking task order, frivolous bid protests

GAO -- Report to Congress on DoD bid protests (pdf)

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