In 2016, the Government Accountability Office came down on the side of companies challenging federal procurement decisions more often than in any year in almost a decade, according to data the office sent to Congress last Thursday afternoon.
In its role as the government’s independent arbiter over bid protests, GAO sided against federal agencies’ initial awarding of contracts and task orders in nearly 23 percent of the cases it decided. The figure was up sharply from 2015, when GAO’s procurement arbiters sustained just 12 percent of protests. It was also the highest rate of sustained protests since 2007, when the office agreed with protesting vendors in 27 percent of that year’s cases.
The raw number of protests GAO sustained was also up significantly over the past year: It upheld 139 complaints out of a total of 616 cases it decided in 2016, the most sustained cases in any year since 2001, when the office’s annual reports began including tallies of the data. That compares to just 68 sustained cases out of 587 GAO decided in 2015. The number of sustained cases has only reached triple digits in one other year: 106 in 2012.
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