Our friend Alan Chvotkin, Executive Vice President of the Professional Services Council (PSC), was quoted in the Washington Post as saying, "I'm a fan of protests. I think that when used properly they do hold the government accountable for following the rules. That's a good thing because Lord knows the government has lots of opportunities to hold the contractor community accountable." Alan knows what he is talking about as anyone who follows his activities with PSC is well aware. And we agree with him wholeheartedly.
We've written often in
these blog posts about the need for the rules and the fact that enforcement of
them leads to an adversarial relationship between contractors and the
government. We noticed just even the Aerospace Industries Association
(AIA) acknowledges the "adversarial relationship" between industry and the
government (see page 8 or the May 2012 edition of National Defense magazine).
You may have heard us on the radio shows talking about why we have all the rules
and how rules necessarily lead to claims and protests.
The real point
here is that when the U.S. District Courts had bid protest jurisdiction
(Congress took it away later), they rationalized getting involved by finding the
plaintiff protesters were acting as "private attorneys general" enforcing the
laws on behalf of the public. Indeed, if one protests only if the regulations
have been violated -- which is the only justification for protesting in our
opinion -- one actually is acting on behalf of the public, of us taxpayers.
Contractors should file protests only in cases where there has been
a violation of a regulation. (We are not a fan of protests involving the contracting officer's discretion.) That is, a mandatory requirement
probably found in FAR Part 15 has been ignored, such as the requirement to
follow the solicitation evaluation scheme.
But the point of the article
in the Post is that protests are increasing dramatically because of the decline
in government spending which has created fierce competition for fewer contract
awards. The statistics certainly support that view. However, we find it
appalling that frivolous protests still are being
Yes, we too believe in protests, for "when used
properly they do hold the government accountable for following the rules." They
are an integral part of our procurement system and are required to help us
citizens protect the integrity of that system.