GAO: Bid Protests Down 2% in 2020

Mark Van Scyoc/

For a second straight year, the Government Accountability Office dealt with fewer bid protests.

Industry continued a recent downward trend in the number of bid protests filed over federal contracts in fiscal 2020, according to the Government Accountability Office.

GAO, which adjudicates bid protests, handled 2,149 bid protests in fiscal 2020, down 2% from the 2,198 bid protests filed by industry in fiscal 2019, according to the annual bid protest report submitted to Congress in late December.

Fiscal 2020’s bid protest tally represents a 10-year low in the number of bid protests filed by industry, down from a peak number of 2,789 protests filed in fiscal 2016.

In fiscal 2020, GAO sustained 84 of 545 total cases decided on merit, for a sustainment rate of about 15%. The most common reason for a sustained or successful protest by industry was over unreasonable technical evaluations, followed by flawed solicitations, unreasonable cost or price evaluations, and unreasonable past performance evaluation.  

“It is important to note that a significant number of protests filed with our Office do not reach a decision on the merits because agencies voluntarily take corrective action in response to the protest rather than defend the protest on the merits,” GAO said in the report. “Agencies need not, and do not, report any of the myriad reasons they decide to take voluntary corrective action.”

GAO also noted that there were no instances over fiscal 2020 when a federal agency “did not fully implement a recommendation made by our Office in connection with a bid protest decided the prior fiscal year and each instance in which a final decision in a protest was not rendered within 100 days after the date the protest is submitted to the Comptroller General.” 

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