It seems like everywhere you turn today you see protests. Wall Street protests, Healthcare protests, Middle East protests, and of course – Government Contract Protests.
One of the biggest battles of the behemoths lately I just happened across as I looked around the News sites. Google was not so happy that they hadn’t been given the chance to bid on a Dept of Interior cloud computing contract and filed in the US Court of Federal Claims. They recently dropped the suit because the DOI re-opened competition, but it got me to thinking about bid protests.
The economy is struggling (still) and contracting dollars are hard to come by. In this particular instance, Google is looking to get in on a $20 billion cloud-computing initiative within the government. So, start with a $59 million award and work at chipping away at the stronghold by other contractors.
It makes a lot of sense to protest if you are able to. Get your facts together and make the case and you could at least get a second chance at it. Especially considering that many of the government procurements are leaning toward “low cost technically acceptable” awards. If you are far superior in your approach to a “technically acceptable” award, you could likely justify the additional cost for the value-add you provide. On the other hand, if you are the low cost and are deemed not technically acceptable it may be of some benefit to get the answer as to why. Therein lies the key to continued to success in the government contracting arena – follow-up.
I once attended a seminar about bid protests that lasted two days and went through everything you need to know about protesting an award, a solicitation, or whatever stage was appropriate. For me, what stuck the most was that they focused in on knowing WHEN to pull the trigger and what to do no matter what. Attend debriefs.
Contract awards have debriefs regarding the procurement decision. Whether you win or lose, it is a good idea to know what you did right (why you won) or wrong (why you lost). Also, if something doesn’t sound right during the debrief, it could lead you to protest the decision – but be aware that you have a short time and that you should have already done some homework about it. Before this gets too boring about the intricacies of the protest process, let me just say to always keep it as part of your contracting toolkit. Remember, the federal government is trimming its budget and your competition just got a lot more fierce for shrinking contract dollars.
Remind me sometime and I will opine on some easy ways to save some money in the processes involved in getting contracts and managing them – shrinking dollars doesn’t have to mean shrinking profits (read “increased efficiency” since profiting too much from government contracts could be seen in a negative light).