Every year, the federal government makes a hugely disproportionate number of its annual purchases in September (the last month of the fiscal year), with close to 10% of total spending in the last week of the month. This surge in spending signals the opening of “bid protest” season, in which disappointed bidders seek to overturn, and successful companies seek to defend, these awards.
Often, government contractors who have lost a competition greatly harm their prospects of obtaining an award by consuming much if not all of the time allowed for filing a challenge at the business level, figuring out what recourse can be had, deciding whether to engage this process, and finding competent counsel.
Key deadlines in one of the most important bid protest venues include the following:
- Three days from when the client receives notification of the award to submit, and have the agency receive, a request for a debriefing as to the basis for the adverse award decision
- Five days after the offered debriefing date or 10 days after award (not notification of award) to file a protest that will trigger an automatic stay on agency performance to prevent the agency from moving forward with the procurement in most cases
- 10 days after the client knew or should have known of the basis for its post-award protest as the last possible date for filing a timely protest
Because agencies sometimes are slow to provide a required debriefing, these deadlines may produce protests both throughout the remainder of September and a large part of October.