Even if the agency is shuttered, don't wait to file your protest
The partial government shutdown is having an impacting on multiple parts of the government market and bid protests at the Government Accountability Office aren’t immune.
GAO has policies in place to work through protests involving agencies that are shutdown.
Many GAO procedures have a set order, so companies and agencies have a certain number of days to file a protest and to respond.
Just because an agency is shutdown, that doesn’t automatically mean that the clock has stopped ticking to file a protest.
If you are a company and want to file a protest, still file it. Don’t wait until the agency has reopened. GAO is open and is still accepting protests. So the deadline contractors face for filing a protest is not suspended.
But deadlines for agencies that are shutdown are extended until the agency reopens. So the clock has stopped there.
GAO continues its work but if it is waiting for an agency response and that agency is shutdown, then GAO has to keep waiting.
There is a caveat, however. Agencies can deem their attorneys as essential. If so, the lawyers can continue to work on a protest if they feel the procurement is important enough.
GAO wants agencies to inform them if they are working or not during the shutdown.
Right now, there are 253 active protests at GAO and 84 involve agencies that are involved in the shutdown. The Homeland Security Department has the bulk of the active protests among shuttered agencies.
But again that doesn’t mean all 84 active cases are in a standstill. If an agency feels the procurement is urgent, it could declare its in-house legal team to be essential so they would continue working on the protest while the agency is shutdown.
And finally, I want to emphasize that for contractors, there is no additional time. If you feel you have grounds for a protest, then file it now. Don’t wait for the government to re-open.
Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jan 08, 2019 at 9:59 AM