He says every agency is facing more bid protests because Congress expanded GAO’s jurisdiction last summer to include task orders worth more than $10 million.
Golden says this accounted about 8 percent of the increase at DoD.
“You cannot take one year as a snapshot and say it has some significance,” he says.
“We took a five snapshot and we found that for four years, the numbers were fairly low. Then we had the one year bump up last year. What we learned is from year-to-year there doesn’t seem to be trends.”
Golden says DoD faced many more protests from 1989 to 1997, which in most years vendors filed more than 1,000 complaints.
After Congress passed acquisition reform in the late 1990s, the number of protests dropped significantly and has been consistently between 400 to 600 a year.
Golden also points out that while the number protests has remained flat, DoD’s spending increased to $395 billion from $262 billion in 2004.
GAO found that the number of protests per $1 billion spent by DoD dropped to 1.5 last year from 1.8 in 2004.
“One of the things I found interesting too was DoD Secretary [Robert] Gates testified last month and noted that DoD did 3.5 million contract actions in 2008 and GAO sustained 13 protests,” Golden says.
“So if you take our report, the 611 protests is really a small number as compared to 3.5 million contract actions.”
Golden adds that the report also gave GAO some insight into its processes.
He says GAO resolves more than 50 percent of the protests in 30 days and the rest within the 100 day limit set by Congress.
Congress also wanted to know how often vendors submit protests to that could be considered frivolous or meritless.
GAO did not address that issue. Golden says they have no basis to determine if a protest is frivolous.
“We are able to deal with those cases where protests are untimely or not in our jurisdiction very quickly,” he says.
“We screen them out and dismiss them because the most important thing is to get them off the books as soon as possible. We’ve done that very well.”