Disposition of Bid Protests and Agency Activities Causing Bid Protests

B-183079: Published: Aug 22, 1979. Publicly Released: Aug 22, 1979.

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There has been concern that the GAO rule requiring that certain bid protests be filed within a 10-day period may result in unfair treatment for small businesses with limited legal resources. A review of the cases decided during fiscal year 1978 where the 10-day rule was applicable indicated that more than 95 percent of those cases were filed within 15 days after the basis for protest was known. Most of the cases filed beyond 15 days fell outside the period by more than a month; therefore, it appeared that any rule permitting consideration of cases beyond a 15-day period would unduly disrupt the procurement process. GAO believed it would be prudent to solicit and consider the views of the major contracting agencies before effecting a change, however. GAO was unable to discern any pattern indicating that small businesses were affected adversely more often by the 10-day rule than other protesters. A rule granting to small businesses a longer period of time than the time permitted for large firms to protest would discriminate unfairly against large firms and would be difficult, if not impossible, to administer. A request was made to GAO to provide the following information: (1) a summary of protest activity, including the number of cases dismissed for various reasons; (2) agency decisions to proceed with the award of a contract despite a pending GAO protest; (3) GAO evaluation of the salient issues raised and a discussion, where appropriate, of agency practices which appear to be generating a significant number of protests; and (4) agency implementation of GAO recommendations. It was noted that a large number of protests were closed because the protest or complaint was withdrawn. In many cases, the protester achieved satisfaction, such as contract award, remedial action by agency, or satisfactory explanation for adverse agency action. Records are incomplete relating to 1978 agency decisions to proceeed with contract award despite a pending GAO protest; but in the first 6 months of 1979 it appeared that award was made before the case was decided in more than 10 percent of the preaward cases filed.

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