Saturday, April 6, 2013

From Federal Times: As budgets tighten, contract attorneys expect uptick in bid protests

Two weeks after sequestration began, contract lawyer Bill Spriggs got a call from a vendor client upset that a federal contracting official had just ordered it to cut its price by 10 percent for “sequestration-related cuts” without a change in service levels.

Spriggs declined to name the contractor or agency, but said the dispute involved a non-defense civilian agency and a commercial item contract where changes can’t occur unless by mutual agreement.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen something like that,” said Spriggs, who runs the Spriggs Law Group in Virginia.

While lawyers sort out the dispute, the larger question is whether the incident was just an anomaly or perhaps an early sign that the sequester will bring about more contract disputes and bid protests.
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  1. This is the new reality, and we can expect protest activity to increase. The lack of government transparency continues to be troubling, combined with an ever-increasing cutthroat mentality by contractors, will see vicious fights for every dollar.

    I just hope that contractors educate themselves on the process, and make prudent decisions about pulling the trigger to a protest. Most contractors think they have an open-and-shut case when they file a protest, but the level of sustained protests is only rising commensurate with increasing protest activity.

    Overall, sustainment levels are still small, so contractors need to get prudent legal advice as well. The meme that protests only "cost the price of a stamp" are false. Legal fees can add up, in addition to reputation and loss of customer confidence.

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