If you want to strike a nerve with federal acquisition managers, bring up bid protests.
The number of protests have all but doubled over the past decade, and that’s creating a significant amount of consternation among the ranks of acquisition personnel at the General Services Administration (GSA).
Janine Wilkinson, GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service national account manager for the Army, said that this was one of the main things federal customers need from industry during a Coalition for Government Procurement panel on April 4, and other GSA officials quickly piled on.
“It’s not just the Army, it’s across the spectrum of customers,” Mark Aucello, director of GSA’s Assisted Acquisition Services client support center for the Mid-Atlantic region, said. “We understand, if we do something wrong, and there’s a legitimate reason to protest, then protest. That’s what it’s there for. But … [when] it’s ‘I want to keep it another six months because I’m the incumbent and I lost,’ I think that’s the sort of thing that creates a lot of work and expense on the government’s part.”
Tom Howder, assistant commissioner for AAS, agreed, noting that nationally, there’s been an increase in protests, which lengthens the acquisition time frame and impacts the workforce, who frequently have to be reassured that the number of bid protests are not a reflection on the quality of their work.