Takeaways

Protest activity at the GAO increased slightly over the previous year.
GAO’s sustain rate dropped to 15%.
GAO’s effectiveness rate dropped to 44%.

On November 27, 2018, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published its annual report on bid protest statistics. The GAO’s report, which is mandated by the Competition in Contracting Act, lists its key statistics for Fiscal Year 2018 bid protest activity. The GAO’s report also includes a chart providing similar bid protest statistics for Fiscal Years 2014-2018. This five-year snapshot provides some valuable insight into current bid protest trends and developments at the GAO.

Most notably, while the total number of protests filed at the GAO increased slightly as compared to the previous year, the GAO’s report reveals that its sustain rate dropped from 17% to 15%, which is the lowest rate since Fiscal Year 2015. The report indicates that the effectiveness rate, which is a combination of the protests where either the agency took voluntary corrective action or the GAO sustained the protest, also dropped from 47% to 44%, which is its lowest rate since Fiscal Year 2014. The report also demonstrates that the use of hearings played less of a role than in prior years. The GAO conducted a hearing in only five cases in Fiscal Year 2018, down sharply from the 42 hearings conducted in Fiscal Year 2014. 

The GAO’s report also indicates that for the protests that were sustained on the merits during Fiscal Year 2018, the most prevalent reasons were: (1) unreasonable technical evaluation; (2) unreasonable cost or price evaluation; (3) and flawed selection decision. These most highly successful protest grounds are similar to those identified in prior years.