According to a 2012 GAO Protest Report, the number of sustained protests on federal procurements have doubled over the past 5 years. Protests can cause an immense amount of stress and strain on any agency, as they are forced to put a halt to important projects and devote their time and resources to gathering materials, conducting forensics, and responding to questions from investigators. How can agencies reduce the chance that they will end up in a costly protest?
It starts with having a well written statement of work and clear and corresponding evaluation criteria. After that, you must ensure that evaluation process was conducted in accordance with regulations.
For example, did evaluators understand the confidentiality rules? Were they given uniform and sufficient instructions on how to conduct the evaluation? Did they conduct their own independent evaluations before the evaluation team meeting? Or were they unprepared and unduly swayed by the opinions of other team members? Also, did evaluators conduct any un-allowed types of external research (such as making phone calls or looking up bidders on the internet) that could have biased them toward one bidder or another?
Any deviation from the rules can make a procurement a prime target of a protest, and increase the likelihood the protest will be sustained. If the rules are clearly understood, and evaluators take care to follow the evaluation rules to the letter, and agencies are committed to conducting evaluations properly, the rates of sustained protests will likely go down.
The problem is, it is very difficult to verify whether evaluations have been conducted properly, and usually the problems aren’t identified until a protest draws them out. Our GovProcure software application provides the ability for managers to ensure that the evaluation process has been conducted according to regulation and in so doing, decrease the chance of a costly protest. And if there is a protest, the data is quickly available to provide to inspectors and resolve the protest quickly and get back to work!
Theresa Wilson is CEO of GovProcure, and designer of the first contract management cloud software for federal CORs, evaluators, and managers. To find out more about how GovProcure can help your organization, please call (571) 389-7284 or email Theresa at firstname.lastname@example.org.