This past March marked the beginning of a more fulsome required debriefing process for defense contracts.
The Director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy (DPAP) issued a class deviation memorandum, effective March 22, 2008, requiring contracting officers to: (1) provide unsuccessful offerors an opportunity to submit additional questions within two days after receiving a debriefing; and (2) hold the debriefing open until the agency delivers written responses. The class deviation implements Section 818 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (NDAA).
Federal agencies have long been required to debrief unsuccessful bidders after it awards a contract on the “basis of a competitive proposals.” And the existing FAR provisions applicable to such debriefings, FAR 15.505 and 15.506, already require agencies to include, as part of the debriefing process, “reasonable responses to relevant questions about whether source selection procedures were followed . . . .”
In practice, however, agencies regularly ignore that requirement — often providing a limited written debriefing, declaring the debriefing closed with no opportunity for questions, and thereby putting the disappointed offeror on a 5-day clock to protest, without all the information to which it is entitled.