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What is a bid protest?

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2020 | Contracts |

A bid protest is a challenge to an award or a proposed award of a contract for the procurement of goods and services. It may also include a challenge to the terms of a solicitation for a contract.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) accepts bid protests against procurement actions by federal government agencies. However, only interest parties can file a bid protest. An interested party usually is a potential bidder for the contract.

If the challenge is for a contract award, the interest party usually is a bidder who did not win the contract. The GAO may also consider other factors in determining whether a person is an interested party, such as the bidder’s standing in the competition.


Generally, a protest challenging the terms of a solicitation must be filed before the receipt of initial proposals. A protest challenging the award of a contract must be filed within 10 days of when a protester knew or should have known of the basis for the protest. The GAO defines days as calendar days.

The regulations concerning timely filing of protests depend on the circumstances of each case.

After the bid protest is filed, the agency must provide a report addressing the protest arguments within 30 days. The protester must file comments to the agency’s report within 10 days of receiving the report. If the protester does not respond within that timeframe, the bid protest will be dismissed.

The GAO does not routinely make its decisions public, unless it addresses a significant issue.

The bid protest process can be complex, but an experienced attorney can provide guidance.