Given the competitive nature of today’s construction industry, bid protests have grown increasingly more common. The challenges associated with government contract awards can easily delay or even prevent companies from fulfilling their contracts to build or renovate residential and commercial properties, which ends up costing untold sums of time, money, and resources. On the other hand, a successful bid protest could win a construction firm additional contracts that were wrongly denied.
At Warner Sechrest & Butts, P.A., our construction attorneys in Florida specialize in bid protest law. We’ve litigated both small- and large-value contracts at multiple levels of government. Contact our firm today to schedule a bid protest consultation.
About Our Bid Protest Attorneys
With potentially large amounts of revenue at stake, most construction firms cannot afford to handle bid protests without backing from knowledgeable attorneys. Whether you are defending a bid protest or pursuing one against another firm, your company can put itself in the best position to succeed by letting our construction law attorneys litigate the case. Given our in-depth knowledge of bid protest law, we provide you with every opportunity to complete a challenged contract or dispute a contract for which your firm was unfairly passed over. Whether the facts of the cases are routine or complex, we work in concert with all of our clients to determine the most effective procedures to achieve their desired outcomes concerning bid protests.
What Is A Bid Protest?
A bid protest challenges a proposed contract award from a federal, state, or local government agency. The party that lost the contract in question typically makes the protest, which prevents the winning firm from carrying out its contractual duties before a determination can be made that the contract was, in fact, justly awarded. While bid protests can be made to government contracts for goods and services in many fields of industry, protests are prevalent in the construction field, where government-awarded projects are competitively sought after by multiple firms at one time.
There are two scenarios under which your company may face a bid protest. After receiving a competitive government contract, such as at the state or local level, your firm would confront an almost omnipresent threat from competitors, who could file a bid protest to temporarily, if not permanently, shut down your operations. Conversely, if your company loses a contract award where the terms and conditions were fundamentally unfair, filing a bid protest could earn you that job.
Do You Need An Attorney To File A Protest?
Although you can file a bid protest without an attorney, we recommend that you seek legal representation before defending a bid protest. A bid protest attorney at our firm will explain the procedural nuances of the protest process, which differ across different levels of government and agencies, and advise you on the best options to shore up your company’s financial interests. Sometimes, having an attorney by your side is a de facto requirement: for example, in cases that involve information subject to a protective order, that information is sealed to the public but still available to attorneys.
What Happens After A Protest Is Filed?
After a bid protest has been filed with the relevant government agency — which for federal contracts is usually the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) — the agency determines whether the protest will move forward or be dismissed. Perhaps the most common reason for a bid protest dismissal is a missed filing deadline, which usually occurs because timelines and instructions for bid protests are couched in complex, esoteric procedural terms that can be difficult to grasp for non-lawyers. Other reasons for protest dismissals include that the oversight agency lacks jurisdiction over the contract, the firm that filed the protest is not an interested party to the dispute, or the basis for the protest is invalid or insufficient.
When a bid protest is dismissed, the matter ends and the contract reverts to the original recipient. Protest dismissals are so common that the government often rejects them with boilerplate letters. However, during the period in between when a protest is filed and dismissed, the project sits idle, potentially costing the firm that won the contract to lose money daily until the construction resumes. Our bid protest attorneys work to find the most compelling reasons to bring about a quick dismissal so contractors can return to work with minimal interruption.
Not all protests are dismissed, however. When the government deems a protest valid, the agency then has 30 days to issue a report that responds to the protester’s arguments. The protestor then has 10 days to file comments, after which time the agency will request further information, hold hearings, or pursue alternative resolutions to the dispute. In many cases, successful bid protests require the insights and arguments of experienced attorneys.
What If I Was Awarded A Contract That Has Been Protested?
While the government has the responsibility to respond to any bid protest levied against your awarded contract, your party can still play an important role in the outcome as an intervenor. Typically under an attorney’s guidance, an intervenor compiles documents, drafts arguments, and collects further evidence that justifies the contract award and the protest’s dismissal. If the legitimacy of the award is called into question, the government may resolve the protester’s claims through “corrective action,” such as contract modifications or even a new award selection.
Over many years of construction law experience, Warner Sechrest & Butts, P.A. has helped numerous contractors and construction firms navigate the landscape of government contract procurement. Whether at the state or local level, look to our attorneys for insightful legal representation in bid protest cases. For a consultation, please contact us today.