Government Contract Attorney Lawyers Bid Protest Claims Disputes Changes REA Terminations Delays: Government Contract Attorneys Lawyers Protests Claims Protests Disputes


What is a bid protest?

A bid protest is a challenge to the award or proposed award of a contract for procurement of goods and services or a challenge to the terms of a solicitation for such a contract.

Who can file a bid protest at GAO?

Only “interested parties” may file protests. In the case of a solicitation challenge, an interested party is generally a potential bidder for the contract. In the case of a contract award challenge, an interested party is generally an actual bidder that did not win the contract. In addition, other factors, such as the bidder’s standing in the competition and the nature of the issues raised may affect whether it qualifies as an interested party.

When must a protest be filed?

In general, a protest challenging the terms of a solicitation must be filed before the time for receipt of initial proposals. A protest challenging the award of a contract must be filed within 10 days of when a protester knows or should know of the basis of the protest (a special case applies where, under certain circumstances, the protester receives a required debriefing). Please be aware that the regulations regarding the timely filing of protests depend on the circumstances of each case and are strictly enforced.  (GAO  Bid Protest Regulation § 21.2)

Where to File A Protest?


Protests and related documents filed by e-mail should be sent to Once your filing has been received at GAO, you will receive an automated reply advising that a file number and attorney will be assigned to the filing.


Fax all protests and related documents to 202-512-9749.

Hand delivery

Protests and related filings must be delivered to GAO's mail center located on the 4th Street side of the GAO building. The center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.


Government Accountability Office, General Counsel, Attn.: Procurement Law Control Group, 441 G Street, NW. Washington, DC 20548  Other protest-related filings should be directed to the GAO attorney assigned to the protest. If delivery problems arise, advise either the GAO attorney assigned to the protest or the appropriate GAO Assistant General Counsel. The U.S. Postal Service, including any of its express services, should not be used for time-sensitive packages. After any inspection, packages will be stamped with a time and date to indicate when packages are considered officially received.

How is time calculated for filing deadlines?

“Days,” under GAO’s regulations, means “calendar days.” In the event a deadline falls on a weekend, federal holiday, or other day when GAO is closed, the deadline is extended to the next business day.  (GAO Bid Protest Regulation § 21.0(e))

I was awarded a contract and was told that the award has been protested—what must I do, and what am I allowed to do?

Parties that have been awarded a contract are permitted to participate in a protest as an intervenor. They are not required to do so, however, as it is the agency’s responsibility to respond to the protest.

Do I need an attorney to file a protest or participate as an intervenor?

No. Parties may file a protest or participate as an intervenor without being represented by an attorney. However, only attorneys are permitted to have access to material subject to a protective order.

What is a protective order?

A protective order prohibits disclosure of sensitive information during a protest. A protective order may be issued by GAO at the request of a protester and allows attorneys admitted to the order to review sensitive information, such as proposals and agency evaluation documents. Only attorneys who are not engaged in “competitive decision making” for a party are eligible for admission to a protective order. Attorneys admitted to a protective order may not disclose protected information to their clients (the protester or intervenor) and must reach agreement with attorneys for the opposing parties and GAO before protected information is released to the public. The protective order process allows attorneys to argue a protest on behalf of a protester or intervenor, without the disclosure of sensitive information.  (GAO Bid Protest Regulation § 21.4)

What happens after a protest has been filed?

If the protest is not dismissed for procedural reasons, the agency must, within 30 days of the filing of a protest, provide a report addressing the protest arguments. The protester must file comments responding to the agency report within 10 days of receiving the report (failure to file comments will result in dismissal of the protest). After the comment period, GAO may request additional filings from the parties, conduct alternative dispute resolution, or hold a hearing. (GAO Bid Protest Regulation § 21.3)

What is “corrective action”?

Corrective action is an agency’s voluntary decision to address an issue in response to a protest. Corrective action can occur at any time during a protest. An agency’s corrective action may involve a re-evaluation of proposals, a new award decision, an amendment to a solicitation, or other actions. We will typically dismiss a protest if an agency takes corrective action that resolves protest arguments or provides the relief sought by the protester.

What are the possible outcomes for a GAO protest?

A protest is concluded when it is:

“withdrawn” by the protester,

“dismissed” by GAO because the protest had a technical or procedural flaw (such as lack of timeliness or jurisdiction) or because the agency takes corrective action that addresses the protest,

“denied” by GAO because we found no merit to the protest, or

“sustained” by GAO because we agree with the protest arguments.

What happens when GAO sustains a protest?

If the GAO agrees with a protester that the agency violated a procurement law or regulation in a prejudicial manner, it will issue a decision sustaining the protest and recommend that the agency address the violation through appropriate corrective action. The agency must then advise the GAO whether it will comply with the recommendation.

How long does GAO take to decide a protest?

The GAO must decide a protest within 100 calendar days.

Source:  GAO Bid Protest FAQS


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