GAO Releases FY 2018 Bid Protest Statistics

The Government Accountability Office has released its Bid Protest Annual Report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2018. According to the report, GAO received 2,607 cases in the 2018 fiscal year, consisting of 2,474 protests, 55 cost claims, and 78 requests for reconsideration. GAO closed 2,642 cases in FY 2018, and 356 of those were attributable to GAO’s jurisdiction over task order protests.

Of the protests resolved on the merits, GAO sustained 15 percent of those protests, down from 17 percent in FY 2017. GAO experienced a slight increase over FY 2017 in cases filed. GAO also reported an “effectiveness rate” of 44 percent. This figure is based on a protester obtaining some form of relief from the agency, either as a result of voluntary corrective action or GAO sustaining the protest. The FY 2017 “effectiveness rate” was 47 percent.

Further, the report notes that GAO used alternative dispute resolution in 86 cases, and the percentage of those cases resolved without a formal GAO decision—or “success rate”—was 77 percent.

GAO issued the data pursuant to a Competition in Contracting Act requirement (31 USC 3554(e)(2)) to report to Congress each instance in which a federal agency did not fully implement a GAO recommendation in connection with a bid protest and each instance in which a final decision in a protest was not rendered within 100 days after filing.

GAO reported no such occurrences for FY 2018.

The same CICA provision also requires GAO to “include a summary of the most prevalent grounds for sustaining protests” during the preceding year. The most prevalent reasons for sustaining protests in FY 2018 were unreasonable technical evaluations, unreasonable cost or price evaluations, and flawed selection decisions.

The reports notes that a significant number of protests do not reach a decision on the merits because agencies voluntarily take corrective action rather than defend the protest.

About William Van Huis

Bill Van Huis is a Senior Writer/Analyst for Wolters Kluwer Law & Business who tracks and analyzes new regulations impacting federal government contracting. He also follows court decisions involving bid protests and contract disputes. You can find his work in WK publications like Government Contract Reports and the FAR and DFARS Matrix Tools. Bill is a Certified Professional Contracts Manager, and he has a law degree from Southern Illinois University, where he graduated summa cum laude. Prior to joining WK, Bill worked both inside and outside state and local government in the areas of procurement and municipal finance. Bill also worked as a staff attorney for the Illinois Supreme Court.
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