Protesting at ODRA?: Learning the Lay of the Land

Your company submitted a proposal to the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) to provide widgets and related services. The opportunity had corporate visibility and was critical to your sector’s bottom line. After several agonizing months of waiting for an award decision, you learn that the FAA made an award to your competitor. You immediately accept the first debriefing date offered by the Agency. As that date approaches, you begin to strategize and weigh your options – should you file the bid protest at the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) or the Court of Federal Claims? The answer – neither. When the FAA makes an award, any protest must be filed with the Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition – otherwise known as ODRA. There are several similarities and differences between, on the one hand, the GAO and the Court of Federal Claims, and, on the other hand, ODRA.

First, you are entitled to an automatic stay of performance if you timely file your protest at the GAO (unless the stay is overridden by the Agency). To obtain a stay of performance at the Court of Federal Claims, you will most likely need to prevail on a motion for a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction. It is very difficult, however, to obtain a stay of performance at the ODRA. ODRA presumes that performance will continue pending resolution of the protest, and a protestor must separately brief the issue of whether a stay should be granted. Unless the protester can demonstrate “a compelling reason to suspend or delay all or part of the procurement activities,” ODRA will allow performance to continue. 14 C.F.R. § 17.13(g); 14 C.F.R. § 17.15(d). A review of ODRA’s suspension decisions shows that stays of performance are rarely granted. In other words, you should expect that ODRA will not grant a stay of performance.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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