The Government Is Shut Down: What About My Protest?

Morrison & Foerster LLP - Government Contracts Insights
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With the 2018 Government shutdown entering the work week, any contractors with ongoing or potential protests may be wondering what the effect of the shutdown will be on the protest process.

Government Accountability Office

According to the GAO Protest page, the GAO is closed due to the shutdown of the federal government, including the GAO bid protest office.  Thus, there “will be no personnel monitoring protest filings at GAO.”  According to the notice:

  • GAO will still endeavor to decide protests within 100 days of when they are filed, though this may be extended. (This is likely heavily dependent on how long the shutdown lasts).
  • Any deadline for a protest filing from a private party that falls on a day that GAO is closed is extended to the first day that GAO resumes operations. This extension operates in the same manner as when a deadline falls on a weekend or federal holiday.
  • For an agency filing, such as an agency report or other filing, any deadline upon request may be extended by up to one day for each day that GAO is closed.
  • Any new protest received by GAO during the time GAO is closed will be treated as filed on the day GAO resumes operations.
  • The GAO will continue to receive email at protests@gao.gov. This will be the only method by which GAO will receive filings during the time GAO is closed.  The GAO mail center is closed and the GAO fax machine will be disabled.

One key take-away for new protesters:  if you need to file a protest for purposes of a CICA stay, consider filing through the email system while GAO is closed or very early on the first day the GAO reopens, then calling to ensure the agency is notified.  Depending on how long the shutdown lasts, the GAO may have a large backlog of protest filings to get through on the first day it reopens, so waiting until the last minute on the day a protest is due may not give the GAO sufficient time to notify the Agency.

Court of Federal Claims

According to the Court of Federal Claims website and a call to the Clerk’s office, the Court of Federal Claims is and expects to remain open during the shutdown.

FAA ODRA

The FAA Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition (ODRA) has notified protesters that it has ceased all normal operations during the shutdown and all scheduled proceedings are suspended indefinitely.  All filings and other deadlines are extended automatically on a day-for-day basis for each government business day, or portion of a business day, affected by the shutdown.  Parties or counsel for parties may still file with ODRA by facsimile or email if they choose to do so; however, such filings will not be reviewed until ODRA resumes operations.

[View source.]

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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