If you are familiar with Government contracting, at some point you have probably encountered disappointment in losing an award when you thought you should have won. Or, maybe you read a Request for Proposals (RFP) with terms that just seemed unfair.
There are two basic categories of protests: Pre-award protests which must be filed before the close of the solicitation (or the opening of a bid) and Post-award protests which must be filed by an “interested party” within certain time limits depending on the type of bid requested and the forum selected. Note that an “interested party” is not necessarily what it sounds like. The Federal Acquisition Regulations define an interested party as “An Interested party for the purpose of filing a protest means an actual or prospective offeror whose direct economic interest would be affected by the award of a contract or by the failure to award a contract.” This definition has been further narrowed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Courts as “the next in line.” In other words, if there is no chance you could be awarded a contract even with the protest issue resolved, you are not an interested party.
There are many other things to consider before filing a protest to include: WHEN to file (as mentioned above), WHERE to file (as there are advantages/disadvantages in filing at the Agency level, at GAO, or in the US Court of Federal Claims), HOW to file (format, redactions, requests for documents and a protective order, etc.), and, most importantly, WHAT arguments to make. In addition, if you are protesting the small business size or socioeconomic status of a business, those protests are filed with the Small Business Administration which has its own administrative rules.
If you need help with deciding whether or not to protest, we can help. Our staff of former Government contract lawyers have, collectively, hundreds of years’ worth of experience both prosecuting and defending protests and can provide invaluable advice on all aspects involved in making this crucial business decision.
F&A can provide timely advice to companies that are out-growing their small business size or larger firms who wish to sell part or all of their business, or who are looking to diversify by acquiring companies. Our experience can aid you in reviewing potential target companies to buy or can help you market your business for sale. Frequently, the divesting of part or all of a business involves the transfer of Government contracts to the buyer. As former Government acquisition lawyers, we have been involved in the novation of hundreds of contracts resulting in superior expertise in the Government’s role in, and rules for, novating contracts to help ensure that this complicated process runs smoothly.
We can also help companies with “size” issues. The mixed blessing of a small company outgrowing its size brings unique challenges. We can provide advice on everything from challenging a NAICS code decision encouraging the Government to select a more favorable NAICS code, to helping you draft newly required documents that will be necessary as a “no longer small” business like a Small Business Subcontracting Plan. We can also help with the creation of Joint Ventures (JVs) to take advantage of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) new “all small” Mentor-Protégé Program which permits a large business Mentor to create a JV with its small business Protégé to pursue small business set-asides. We can help draft those Mentor-Protégé and JV Agreements to ensure the SBA’s requirements are met.
Our informed and responsive attention to your questions on all issues related to Government contracting is not only our most important priority, it’s our ONLY priority.
We have published several articles here over the past year regarding the SBA’s “All Small” Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP). Since that time, the MPP has been shown to be incredibly popular – particularly because of the feature that permits a Large Business Mentor and Small Business Protégé to form a Joint Venture without their employees (or revenue) being aggregated and running afoul of the SBA’s rules of affiliation. However, there are a number of hazards that can affect smooth sailing over SBA’s seas. Regardless of the size or status of either the potential Mentor or Protégé, we can help you navigate those waters to reach your destination. Please contact us to discuss ways in which we can be of service.
The Army’s $34.5B RS3 contract drew its first post award protest. Proteus Technologies LLC filed a protest to the GAO on May 26th, with a decision due on 9/5/2017. By way of background Proteus Technologies was one of three firms that recently merged to form Polaris. The other two firms were EOIR Technologies (“EOIR”) of Fredericksburg, VA and Intelligent Software Solutions (“ISS”), of Colorado Springs, CO.
Assuming that, if you are reading this post, you are (or wish to be) doing business with the Department of Defense (DoD), you might not be aware that DoD updated its Instruction (DoDI) 5000.02 which covers the Operation of the Defense Acquisition System back in February. This LINK will get you to the 188 page “red lined” document which describes the acquisition process from initial capabilities (what DoD needs or wants), through funding , and the various acquisition models, e.g., “hardware intensive,” or “incrementally deployed software intensive programs.”
This is a good resource for those who need the current DoD guidance, and while it is specifically designed for DoD components, there is much that you might find useful as you pursue federal Government opportunities in general. Please contact us if we can help you navigate the federal acquisition and post-acquisition waters.
Vic Ferlise, Mike Ferlise and Frank Faraci will be attending AUSA’s Global Force Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville, Alabama.
The 2017 AUSA Global Force Symposium & Exposition is a three-day event that will include presentations from the United States Army Materiel Command, the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology).
This symposium will explore the capabilities outlined in the Army Operating Concept and how the force transforms from being adaptive to driving innovation for Force 2025 and beyond.
For more information please click the link below:
AUSA Global Force
Mike Ferlise and Vince Buonocore will be attending the upcoming Thomson Reuters “Government Contracts Year-in-Review” conference in Washing, DC from February 14th through the 16th. This event will provide high-level, expert briefings on the past year’s legal developments affecting government contracts.
From everyone here at Ferlise and Associates, we wish you a very Happy Holiday season and a peaceful and prosperous New Year!
Victor Ferlise, Michael Ferlise and Wendy McCutcheon will be attending the upcoming National Veterans Small Business Engagement (NVSBE) in Minneapolis. NVSBE is the premier event for Veteran-Owned Small Businesses and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses to connect with Procurement Decision Makers, program specialists, and contracting experts from the federal and commercial marketplaces.
Effective October 1st, task order “fair opportunity” awards by civilian agencies are not protestable, regardless of dollar value, except in very narrow circumstances. (i.e. if the task order is outside the scope of the underlying IDIQ, or exceeds its maximum ceiling or effective period. Those sort of challenges can still be made before the GAO or Court of Federal Claims.) The statute creating GAO jurisdiction over fair opportunity task order awards in excess of $10M by civilian agencies contains a “sunset” provision that causes the jurisdiction to expire after FY ’16. (The statute creating such jurisdiction for DoD agencies did NOT have that sunset provision, and accordingly their situation is unaffected.)
The FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (both the House and Senate versions) contains language that would reestablish GAO jurisdiction over such protests if they exceed $10M. However, until the Act is effective, contractors wishing to challenge such awards made by civilian agencies will have no formal recourse.