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Oles Morrison

Major Changes to GAO’s Bid Protest Jurisdiction Over Task Order Awards

By on January 6, 2017 | Posted in Bid Protests

16064489288_1323da98f9_k (1)Two pieces of federal legislation that  recently became law will have a major impact on government contractors seeking to protest Department of Defense (DoD) and Civilian Agencies task order awards.  Some changes are for the worse, others are for the better.  However, the best news for contractors is probably that some of the changes that were proposed did not make it into the final legislation.

2017 NDAA Divests GAO of Protest Jurisdiction Over of DoD Task Order Awards Between $10 Million and $25 Million

Signed into law Dec. 23, 2016, the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (2017 NDAA) amends 10 U.S.C. § 2304c(e)(1)(B) by increasing the GAO’s jurisdictional threshold value for DoD task order protests from $10 million to $25 million.  Naturally, this large increase greatly impacts contractors on DoD acquisitions.  No legal remedy to protest DoD task orders less than $25 million will now exist, unless the protestor contends that the the order increases the scope, period, or maximum value of the contract under which the order is issued.  Since DoD lobbied for this large increase, contractors can expect DoD will aim to issue task orders under the new $25 million threshold knowing those task order awards will not be subject to a protest at GAO.

Civilian Task Order Act Restores GAO’s Protest Jurisdiction Over Protests of $10 Million+ Civilian Agency Task Order Awards

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) Civilian Task and Delivery Order Protest Authority Act of 2016 (Civilian Task Order Act), signed into law Dec. 14, 2016, restores GAO’s protest authority over civilian task orders valued at over $10 million.  The reinstatement of civilian task order protest jurisdiction at GAO is welcome news for disappointed offerors on civilian task order procurement, since they had no remedy during the prior three months to protest civilian agencies’ task order awards.

Bottom Line 

Although the increase in the DoD threshold to $25 million is unwelcome news, contractors can breathe a sigh of relief that other proposed protest reforms were not part of the final enacted 2017 NDAA.  Those proposed changes included an attempt to require contractors earning more than $100 million in annual revenue to reimburse GAO for costs incurred for processing an unsuccessful GAO bid protest and to make an incumbent contractor-protestor forfeit profits earned on a bridge contract or extension received during the resolution of an unsuccessful GAO bid protest, and to preclude contractors from filing a bid protest at the Court of Federal Claims after unsuccessfully pursuing a protest at GAO.  However, these proposed changes may not be dead forever.  The 2017 NDAA mandates that DoD contract with an independent research entity to carry out a comprehensive study on the prevalence and impact of bid protests on Department of Defense acquisitions, including protests filed with contracting agencies, the Government Accountability Office, and the Court of Federal Claims.  One of the focuses of the report is too analyze bid protests filed by incumbent contractors.  Contractors should keep an eye out for this report, as it could be used as ammunition to limit bid protests rights in the future.

Image courtesy of flickr (licensed) by Dean Hochman