In the latest Weekly Wright Report:
FY 2019 GAO Results Are In
On November 5, 2019, the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) issued its annual Bid Protest Report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2019. During 2019, the GAO received 2,198 protests (down 16% from the year before). Consistent with statistics from previous years, of the protests resolved on the merits during 2019 (587), only 13% were sustained. The GAO noted that a significant number of protests filed with the office do not reach a decision on the merits because agencies voluntarily take corrective action in response to a protest rather than defend the protest and award on the merits. Agencies are not required to report the reasons for deciding to take voluntary corrective action.
The most prevalent reasons for sustaining protests during 2019 were:
- unreasonable technical evaluation – for example, finding that the agency’s evaluation of the awardee’s technical proposal was unreasonable where the record did not support the assignment of three of the five strengths that were cited as discriminators in favor of the awardee;
- inadequate documentation of the record (agency failed to adequately document the basis for contract award);
- flawed selection decision – (e.g., best-value tradeoff decision was unreasonable, record did not demonstrate that the selection official considered qualitative aspects were worth the price premium);
- unequal treatment (e.g., agency unequally evaluated offerors and provided disparate assessments for identical aspects); and
- unreasonable cost or price evaluation (e.g., agency performed a price realism analysis beyond that required in solicitation).
The GAO also reported that its “Effectiveness Rate” for 2019 was 44%, the same as 2018. The Effectiveness Rate is based on a protester obtaining some form of relief from the agency, as reported to the GAO, either through voluntary agency corrective action or the GAO sustaining the protest. Of interest, the Report notes that alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) was used in 40 cases (down from 86 in 2018) and that the ADR process was 90% successful in resolving the cases. If you were looking forward to having your day in “court” regarding your protest with the GAO, don’t count on it, in 2019 the GAO conducted merit hearings in just 21 cases (just 2% of its cases).
While the direct sustain rate at the GAO remains low at 13%, perhaps the more accurate measure of results is the Effectiveness Rate, which reflects the percentage of time that a protester obtains some form of relief. Thus, protests result in some form of relief almost 57% of the time.
If you are looking for help in considering a protest, our Government Contract attorneys are here to help. Don’t wait too long though because the timeframe for filing a protests are very short from notice of award.
How to Pay Yourself More in 2020
The IRS has increased the limit that employees can contribute, with pre-tax dollars, to their 401(k) accounts. Starting January 1, 2020, this contribution limit will increase $500 to $19,500.00. The combined employer and employee contribution limit also increases by $1,000 to $57,000.00. For participants aged 50 and higher, the additional “catch-up” contribution will also increase by $500 to $6,500.00.
Companies should announce these changes now so employees can consider putting away more earnings and potentially increase their retirement savings. Check with plan sponsors too because they may need to revise benefit forms previously provided to employees for their 2020 enrollment. To read more, check out SHRM’s article published this week.
Want more? Visit the Weekly Wright Report page to browse past issues.