Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Former Federal Procurement Chief Says Bid Protests Are Important

Dan Gordon, former director of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, believes that bid protests are important.

Dan Gordon
Few firms protest, limited success rates:  Gordon notes that very few federal contracts actually are protested - about a half a percent.  Of those that are protested, very few result in the protesting firm being awarded the project.  So should bid protest rights be restricted in order to make government procurement more timely and efficient?  Gordon argues that bid protests are actually valuable.  Click here to read an article about Gordon's opinions.

Value of protests:  Gordon notes that bid protests help provide a level of accountability and transparency in the procurement process that is important:
  • Inexpensive Accountability Forum:  Protests provide a relatively low-cost forum for concerned vendors to raise their concerns about the procurement process.
  • Vendor Confidence:  The ability to protest a procurement process or award increases the confidence level of vendors in the integrity of the process.
  • Public Confidence:  Bid protests help the general public have more confidence in the integrity of the process of how the government obtains goods and services.
  • Transparency:  Protests help keep the procurement process transparent and open.
  • Guidance:  Protest decisions provide guidance for future procurements.
Protest policies:  Here are some questions to ask about your agency's protest policies:
  • Policies:  Does your agency have clear protest and appeals policies?
  • In Solicitation Documents:  Are your protest procedures described in your solicitation documents, whether it's an Invitation to Bid or Request for Proposals?
  • Compliance with Laws:  Are your protest policies consistent with any state or federal regulations?
  • Best Practices:  Are your protest policies consistent with best practices?
Meet with the protestor:  Some protests have good points to them, while others are driven more by firms simply disgruntled for not winning a contract.   Regardless of the validity of a protest, it's always a good idea to treat the protestor with respect.  
  • Meet:  Meet with the protestor.

  • Understand:  Try to understand their position. 
  • Question:  Ask questions of both the protestor and the agency.
  • Listen:  Listen to both substance and emotion.
  • Empathy:  Make sure the protestor feels heard, whether you agree with them or not.
  • Impact on future:  How you treat a protestor can go a long ways when the protestor makes the decision to take the protest for the next level of appeal.

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2013 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC 

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