Agencies May Continue to Evaluate Proposals While GAO Protest is in Process

Agencies May Evaluate Proposals During GAO Protests, Says Court

A procuring agency was entitled to evaluate proposals during the course of a pre-award GAO bid protest without violating the automatic stay provision of the Competition in Contracting Act.

According to a recent federal court decision, CICA merely prohibits the award of a contract during the course of a GAO protest, but does not prevent an agency from continuing to evaluate proposals.

The decision of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Caddell Construction Co., LLC v. United States, Nos. 15-135 C & 15-136 C (2015) involved a State Department solicitation to construct embassy facilities in Mozambique.  Caddell Construction Co., Inc. filed two pre-award GAO protests challenging the pre-qualification of two of its competitors.

While the GAO was in the process of evaluating the protests, Caddell learned that the agency was continuing to evaluate proposals while it awaited the GAO’s decisions.  Caddell filed an action in the Court of Federal Claims, arguing that the agency was violating the CICA automatic stay provision.

With respect to pre-award GAO protests, CICA states that unless the agency overrides the stay in accordance with the law “a contract may not be awarded in any procurement after the Federal agency has received notice of a protest with respect to such procurement from the Comptroller General and while the protest is pending.”  Overrides, which must be authorized by the head of the procuring agency, are infrequent.  The agency did not override the automatic stay in the Caddell GAO protests.

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Source:, Article Steven Koprince, Posted on April 20, 2015


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