Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Naval Sea Systems
Disposition: Recommended Payment of Attorney’s Fees, Protest Costs
Keywords: Costs and Fees
General Counsel, P.C. Highlight: GAO will recommend an Agency pay the protester’s costs and attorney’s fees where the protester is successful in its protest, including when the Agency unduly delays taking corrective action in the face of a clearly meritorious protest.
ManTech Systems and TWD & Associates requested that GAO recommend the reimbursement of the protesters’ attorney’s fees relating to their challenge of the issuance of a task order to Alion Science and Technology Corporation. The Naval Seas Systems Command (NSSC) originally issued a task order to Alion based on its conclusion that Alion’s proposal offered the best overall value to the government considering cost and several non-cost evaluation criteria. Following a challenge by ManTech and TWD, alleging that NSSC had misevaluated Alion’s cost proposal, GAO conducted an “outcome prediction” alternative dispute resolution procedure, during which a GAO attorney advised NSSC that it had misevaluated Alion’s cost proposal.
In line with these findings, the GAO attorney advised NSSC that it should either amend the solicitation to more accurately reflect its expectations, or obtain revised proposals and make a new selection decision. Based on GAO’s recommendations, NSSC took corrective action by reconsidering its needs, amending the solicitation if necessary, obtaining revised proposals, and making a new source selection decision. As a result of the corrective action taken by NSSC, ManTech and TMD requested the reimbursement of the costs of filing and pursuing their protests.
In their written opinion, GAO noted its practice of reimbursing a protester’s costs of pursuing a protest where the agency unduly delays taking corrective action in the face of a clearly meritorious protest, thereby causing the protestor to expend unnecessary time and resources to obtain relief. Undue delay has been understood as taking corrective action after the Agency responds to the protest through an Agency Report. In this instance, GAO noted that corrective action came after the issuance of the Agency Report and that the protest was clearly meritorious. Therefore, GAO recommended payment of the protesters’ costs and fees.