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Alan Chvotkin, executive VP & counsel at the Professional Services Council, discusses what makes for a successful bid protest, and the potential for contractor back pay after shutdowns.

With high-profile bid protests making the news in recent months, it seems like there’s more than ever. However, the data shows otherwise. Making bid protests is a complicated and difficult process, according to Alan Chvotkin, executive VP & counsel at the Professional Services Council. Chvotkin says that there are just a few mistakes agencies make that result in successful bid protests.


“Things come in threes. First of all, the agency controls everything. The first common mistake is the agency fails to follow its own rules. They lay out a set of evaluation criteria and then they don’t follow them. Almost a guarantee GAO in the court of federal claims is going to slap them down. Secondly, a failure in the agency to document its decision. Even if they reach the right decision, if you can’t replicate it and understand the basis for it, often times the reviewing agencies are going to find a challenge with that,” Chvotkin said. “The third area is where the agency is failing to provide adequate information and debriefing to the losing protesters or to the losing company. We have been a strong proponent of enhanced debriefings for the Department of Defense, other agencies like GSA have tested it. We’re pursuing some legislation to make that enhanced debriefing government wide. Companies really need to understand the basis of which they have lost and that in our view will substantially minimize the likelihood of a company protesting.

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