President's signature reinstates GAO protest authority

President Obama signed HR 5995, giving the Government Accountability Office the authority once again to hear protests involving civilian task orders.

President Obama has signed into law HR 5995, which reinstates the Government Accountability Office’s jurisdiction over protests of civilian task orders.

The GAO jurisdiction had expired at the end of fiscal 2016. The new law makes the GAO authority permanent.

During the two and half months since the authority expired, companies could not protest most civilian task orders. There was a little bit of a gray area involving whether there could be a protest of a task order if a defense buyer was using a civilian contract.

Several protests were filed involving this scenario, but GAO eventually ruled that it didn’t have jurisdiction and dismissed those protests.

The law, known as the “GAO Civilian Task and Delivery Order Protest Authority Act of 2016,” is not retroactive to Sept. 30 and has no provisions for task orders awarded since Sept. 30 to be protested now.

So, if you wanted to protest an award from October, you still can’t.

With the president’s signature, civilian task order contracts are on the same footing as defense contracts. GAO now has permanent protest jurisdiction over both.