The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is establishing a new system for filing bid protests – the Electronic Protest Docketing System (EPDS). GAO promises that the new system will be both “secure” and “easy-to-use.”

This week, GAO rolled out a new set of instructions that offers greater insight into the new e-filing process.

The instructions include definitions of key terms, details on eligibility for bid protest filers, and some logistical information on how protests will be filed and processed under the new EDPS system.

GAO still has not provided a firm date from when EPDS will go live. When a start date is set, will the change to EPDS be earth-shattering? No. GAO bid protests will still be subject to the same rules concerning content, standing, and timeliness (among other things).

One new EPDS feature sure to garner more attention as the roll out continues is the new $350.00 filing fee. Currently, filing bid protests is free. GAO says that the new fee is included in order to offset the cost of the EPDS system.

The filing fee is new, but should not affect a contractor’s strategy for pursuing a protest at the GAO. As we’ve covered in detail before, the GAO is the ideal forum for protesting straight-forward agency errors that can – at least in theory – be resolved quickly in the GAO’s streamlined environment. Protests involving more complicated legal questions are better suited for resolution at the Court of Federal Claims.

For more on the pros and cons of protests at the GAO, check out my Government Contracts 101 guide.