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Protest Case Studies

A widely held belief among people doing federal business is that a protest costs far too much and is not good business because the agency will retaliate. I reject both claims as not being factual. Now a protest can cost hundreds of thousands, but you only do this when you are right, think you can win, and millions are at stake. And in many instances the feds have to pay your legal fees if you win. I have been involved in probably more than 1000 protests. Here are a couple. I submitted a bid to Treasury and a two-page protest that took only an hour or so. About a month later, the agency called and told me they had denied my protest on their RFP. I thanked the CO and told him I would now decide if I wanted to pursue the issue in another venue. He said while I was deciding could I stop by at 2pm. I asked why and he said to pick up my contract. I had won the bid.

In another case I read in the CBD about a sole source to AT & T. I operate under the assumption that any sole source to IBM or AT&T is most likely illegal and that, while the government does about 40% of their business sole source, about 80% of this sole source business is certainly illegal.

I wrote a one-page protest to the USDA Competition Advocate that this was most certainly an improper sole source. And I did not even care if they did the sole source. I had no client interested. But if you don't drive your car for three years your skills diminish. Same is true of protests. When was your last protest?

This entire protest took one first class stamp, one page of paper, one envelope, and about 15 minutes to create. Within about 10 days the sole source was canceled.

Vendors only win about 10% of GAO protests. Most of them are not skilled or they get their legal help in Boise or San Diego. Boise is where you get help in hunting elk. San Diego is where you get help to surf or deep-sea fish. There are no dog sled trainers in Tampa, are there?

But here is exhibit A. Remember the $25 billion GSA FTS RFP? It was awarded by Carol Hall, CO, 60% to AT&T and 40% to Sprint.

Then the contract came to an end. Just prior to the end, MCI filed a protest against a proposed GSA tech refresh with AT&T. The court in B-276659.2 ruled the tech refresh was a cardinal change and out of scope and denied GSA the right to pursue the sole source with AT&T. Carol was long gone and some other CO did this.

Now comes the new FTS 2001 RFP. Who wins? Sprint wins 60% and MCI wins 40%. For the first time in American history, AT&T is no longer the dominant voice career in federal.

Don't file any protest as you will only make the Captain mad and he will get you.


Written by Terry Miller. Published by Organizational Communications, Inc. Republished with permission.



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