Although protests are relatively a small percentage of contract actions, they are on the rise. For contract actions of significant amount, they are almost assured in this budgetary environment.
Case in point is CH2M Hill Antarctic Support, Inc. recently protesting a $2 billion contract won by Lockheed Martin Corp. to support the U.S. Antarctic Research program in the South Pole.
Many protests can be what I call “sour grapes,” nothing more than a business tactic to get another 90 days of revenue. The normal complaint is improper evaluation, unfair bias, etc. Basically, throw on the wall what seems plausible, and hope you can dig up enough dirt to make something stick.
Nonetheless, many 1102s that I speak to and support are almost terrified of protests, with good reason. Protests are disruptive, expensive, time-consuming, and create animosities between the agency and the protestor. I wrote an op-ed on this issue a year ago, and nothing has changed: http://bit.ly/yQ3INl
Some things that I focus on in supporting an RFP:
1) Sound requirements
2) Fair evalution criteria
3) Comprehensice training for the source selection team
4) Strict adherence to processes (as outlined in Source Selection Pan)
5) Comprehensive, detailed documentation to support a decision
6) Detailed, transparent debriefings to losing offerors
- What specific things does your organization do to ensure an RFP does not get protested?
- What can or should be done to mitigate protest risk?