Deciding whether to file a bid protest can be difficult. Many companies are understandably reluctant to fight with a customer over a lost contract, and the payoff for a successful protest is not necessarily a contract award. On the other hand, losing a strategically important competition for reasons that are unclear or unfair may be unacceptable to a company’s stakeholders, particularly in a declining market.

Only a small percentage of federal contracts are protested each year, but bid protests are more common on large procurements and those that have long-term significance within a particular market sector. This makes economic sense, as companies often commit years of effort and financial resources to large, “must win” procurements. When these programs are lost in close competitions, and for unconvincing reasons, filing a bid protest is often the next logical step in the acquisition process. In short, the chance of salvaging a critical competition is often worth the incremental cost of pursuing a protest.

The number of federal protests has grown steadily since 2001, and this growth has gone on despite the decline in procurement spending. When your company is pondering a “go/no go” decision on federal protest matters, what questions should you be considering?

In this article for Briefing Papers, we review, in checklist and narrative form, key business and legal questions to consider when analyzing whether to file a bid protest. Find out more about the costs, risks and potential advantages of filing a bid protest.