In early April, the GAO issued a final rule revising the existing bid protest process—the major revisions being the introduction of an Electronic Protest Docketing System (EPDS) and a protest filing fee. When the rule takes effect on May 1, 2018, the new EPDS will launch as the GAO’s electronic filing and document dissemination system for bid protests.
Electronic Protest Docketing System
EPDS will be the exclusive way to file a protest and protest-related documents at the GAO with only two exceptions:
- documents containing classified information and
- documents that cannot be filed through EPDS due to size or format.
Protestors will still be required to provide a copy of the initial protest to the contracting officer outside of the electronic system.
In addition, the new rule clarifies that documents will be considered “filed” on the EPDS on a particular day if the system receives the documents by 5:30 pm EST. The delivery of documents by means other than EPDS—besides the two exceptions listed above—will not constitute a filing. Filing with EPDS will constitute notice to all parties listed in the filing.
The new rule also establishes that when a party files a designated protected document through EPDS, the party must provide a proposed redacted version of the document within two days if requested by another party. Only the final, agreed-upon redacted version will need to be filed on EPDS.
Implementation of Filing Fee
The new rule also implements a $350 filing fee for all new protests. GAO stated the fee is designed to cover the cost of the EPDS and is not intended to discourage or reduce the number of protests filed at the agency. The rule does not include a fee for any other portion of the process beyond the initial protest filing—i.e. currently, there are no additional fees for supplemental protests, requests for reconsideration, requests for recommendation for reimbursement of costs, or requests for recommendation on the amount of costs.