The laws and regulations that govern contracting with the federal government are designed to ensure that federal procurements are conducted fairly. On occasion, bidders or others interested in government procurements may have reason to believe that a contract has been or is about to be awarded improperly or illegally, or that they have been unfairly denied a contract or an opportunity to compete for a contract. A major avenue of relief for those concerned about the propriety of an award has been the Government Accountability Office, which for more than 75 years has provided an objective, independent, and impartial forum for the resolution of disputes concerning the awards of federal contracts.
Over the years, GAO has developed a substantial body of law and standard procedures for considering bid protests. This is the seventh edition of Bid Protests at GAO: A Descriptive Guide, prepared by the Office of the General Counsel to aid those interested in GAO's bid protest process. We issued the first edition of this booklet in 1975 to facilitate greater public familiarity with the bid protest process at GAO and we have revised it over the years to reflect changes in our bid protest procedures. This edition incorporates changes made to our Bid Protest Regulations, effective January 1, 2003, to conform the Regulations to current practice and otherwise to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the bid protest process at GAO.We have improved this edition of the booklet by providing additional and updated practice tips to assist parties participating in a bid protest at GAO. We also have updated the appendixes, which contain a revised sample protective order and revised sample applications for access to material under a protective order.