Defense Contracting:

Complete Historical Data Not Available on Canceled DOD Solicitations

GAO-16-502R: Published: Jun 29, 2016. Publicly Released: Jun 29, 2016.

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William T. Woods
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What GAO Found

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and GAO bid protest decisions identify general standards that the government must meet before canceling a solicitation depending on the type of solicitation procedure used. These standards and different scenarios for cancelations are outlined in the figure below.

Examples of Scenarios to Cancel a Solicitation for Sealed Bids and Negotiated Procurements


Complete historical data are not available to assess patterns in the Department of Defense’s (DOD) cancelation of solicitations. According to DOD officials, DOD does not track information on canceled solicitations and other available government data sources do not contain complete and reliable historical information on canceled solicitations. GAO identified the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) web page ( as the best possible source to identify canceled solicitations; however, GAO found that the information from FBO is not available in a format that would allow for a reliable trend analysis of DOD’s canceled solicitations. For example, GAO was unable to determine the outcome for over 75 percent of solicitations posted in 2014. FBO is intended to make industry aware of the government’s contracting requirements, not to archive and track the type of information on past solicitations which would be needed to identify canceled solicitations from fiscal years 2010 through 2014.To the extent that issues regarding canceled solicitations may arise in individual procurements, the bid protest process provides contractors with a mechanism to contest circumstances of canceled solicitations on a case-by-case basis.

Why GAO Did This Study

The FAR generally requires that federal executive agencies seek competition for contracting opportunities by issuing solicitations. In certain instances, after notifying industry of its intent to purchase a certain good or service, the government may decide to cancel a solicitation—thereby stopping the procurement process. The House Report accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 included a provision for GAO to report on solicitations that DOD canceled after receiving bids or proposals from industry between fiscal years 2010 and 2014. This report describes: 1) standards for canceling a solicitation and 2) availability of data on canceled DOD solicitations, among other objectives.

To describe the standards to cancel a solicitation, GAO reviewed the FAR and GAO bid protest decisions. To determine what information is available on canceled DOD solicitations, GAO reviewed available data from federal business opportunities (FBO) web page (, and interviewed officials from the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is not making any recommendations.

For more information, contact William T. Woods at (202) 512-4841 or

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