Companies that want to fight the federal government over billions of dollars in contract awards may have to pay up or shut up.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office, which arbitrates contract disputes, is asking Congress to approve the agency’s first-ever fee to file a bid protest, said Ralph White, GAO’s managing associate general counsel for procurement law. The proposed charge might come in the form of a $240 flat fee, which would fund an online docket system designed to help the GAO cope with a rising caseload, he said.
Protests over award decisions and other contracting issues rose to 2,475 in the year that ended Sept. 30, the highest level since 1995 and a 75 percent increase since fiscal 2007, according to GAO statistics. The surge in recent years may partly reflect more competition for a smaller pool of awards as U.S. agencies begin cutting their budgets.
“We’ve got to find some way to improve and streamline how we handle protests, and this idea is meant to be one possible way,” White said in a phone interview.
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