New GAO Bid Protest Rules Take Effect May 1 — What Contractors Need to Know

by McGuireWoods LLP

Beginning May 1, 2018, all bid protests (except protests containing classified material) must be filed electronically through the Government Accountability Office’s new Electronic Protest Docketing System (EPDS). Along with an electronic filing platform, the GAO is introducing a $350 protest filing fee. These new rules apply only to GAO protests — not to protests filed at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Without a proper understanding of GAO’s new rules, protesters risk filing an untimely protest or missing the deadline for an automatic stay of contract performance. McGuireWoods’ government contracting legal team — who represented a party to a protest selected for GAO’s pilot program during the EPDS testing phase — offer a list of tips and recommendations for navigating the new system: 

  • Register as a user, learn the system and ensure your staff is familiar with the layout. GAO has uploaded detailed videos explaining the EPDS filing procedure, along with an 81-page “Electronic Protest Docketing System (EPDS) Protestor/Intervenor User Manual,” for accomplishing practically every function on the platform. The new system features a unique layout that is best to learn before the time comes to file a protest. The system is quite different from other electronic filing systems, including the Case Management/Electronic Case Files system (CM/ECF), and it is worth the time and investment to learn it before you need it.
  • File early, and have $350 payment ready. The daily filing deadline for EPDS is GAO’s close of business — 5:30 p.m. EDT — rather than the end of the day as on CM/ECF.  EPDS requires that protests be uploaded, along with any supporting documents, with all “sensitive information” redacted. The GAO must receive the new $350 protest-filing fee in order for the bid protest to be properly filed.

After successfully uploading the document(s) and paying the initial filing fee, protesters should receive two automated email responses. The first email confirms receipt of the $350 filing fee, and the second email informs the contracting agency that the protest was filed. To mitigate the risk of an untimely protest, begin the filing process early in the day and, if there are any technical challenges, contact the GAO at

  • Timely serve a copy of the protest on the contracting officer. Pursuant to 4 C.F.R.
    § 21.1, a protester still must serve a copy of the original protest on the contracting officer. Although an electronic notification will automatically be sent to the contracting officer, informing him or her of the protest, this does not negate the protestor’s duty to serve a complete copy of the protest on the contracting officer.
  • Only four authorized personnel can access a protest through EPDS. After filing a protest, or intervening on behalf of a client, there are restrictions on access to the material on EPDS. Regardless of how many people on your team are admitted under the protective order, EPDS allows only four authorized representatives to access or file documents in the electronic system. (See GAO EPDS Protestor/Intervenor User Manual at 29.)
  • Document attorneys’ fees. Under 4 C.F.R. § 21.8(e), if the agency takes corrective action in response to a protest, the GAO “may recommend that the agency pay the protester the reasonable costs of filing and pursuing the protest, including attorneys’ fees and expert witness fees.”

The protester has no more than “15 days after the date on which the protester learned (or should have learned, if that date is earlier) that GAO had closed the protest based on the agency’s decision to take corrective action” to file any request for reimbursement of its fees. If the protester files a timely request, the agency has 15 days to respond. Then, the protester has 10 days to file comments on the agency’s response. Unless the GAO has granted a time extension for filing comments, the GAO shall dismiss the request for reimbursement if the protester fails to timely comment. If the parties cannot agree, they can request — in accordance with 4 C.F.R. § 21.8(f) — that the GAO recommend the amount of fees that should be reimbursed.

Notably absent from this new regulation is language limiting the fees to those “reasonably” incurred in pursuing the protest or a flat hourly limit on the rate of recoverable fees. The GAO received a comment recommending that it fix the hourly rate of reimbursement at $150, but declined to do so.

  • Decisions are distributed through EPDS. After the parties file proposed redactions to the GAO’s decision, the GAO will issue a “Public Decision.” Pursuant to 4 C.F.R. § 21.21(b), “[d]ecisions will be distributed to the parties through the EPDS.”
  • Download any protest decisions of interest before May 1, 2018.  Effective May 1, 2018, the GAO will reduce the time it preserves its bid-protest decisions and full docket for all cases, from 12 months to 60 days. If you do not have access to bid protest decisions through a different platform, such as Lexis or WestLaw, be sure to download any final GAO decisions of interest to your organization before this May 1 deadline.


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.

© McGuireWoods LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

McGuireWoods LLP

McGuireWoods LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.