Matter of Worldwide Language Resources, Inc. – Costs
Decided: August 9, 2023
Agency: Department of the Army
Disposition: Request for Costs Granted
Keywords: Attorneys’ Fees
This matter showcases some of the considerations surrounding requests for attorneys’ fees. The statute stipulates a flat $150 hourly rate for attorneys’ fees but allows for exceptions, when justified, such as based on an increase in the cost of living, which was the case here. Even though WorldWide requested a higher rate than statutorily allowed, the agency did not object, which made the process fairly simple, as GAO granted WorldWide’s request without much discussion.
A protester’s recovery of legal fees, as GAO recommended here, while not guaranteed, may be a critical factor in assessing the risks associated with filing a protest. Protesting an award should be a data-driven, fact-specific, strategically assessed, and appropriately funded decision for any business. General Counsel, P.C. helps our clients reach critical decisions before protesting an unsuccessful award or intervening as a successful awardee, litigating bid protests through to a decision, and adapting post-decision internal methods for a more successful acquisitions win plan.
Summary of Facts
WorldWide Language Resources, Inc., with the concurrence of the Department of the Army, requests that GAO recommend that WorldWide be reimbursed attorneys’ fees at a rate higher than the $150 per hour statutory rate limit in connection with a bid protest in which WorldWide prevailed, for a total reimbursement of $24,264.96. WorldWide protested the terms of request for task order proposals No. W911W4-22-R-CENT2, issued by the Army, for foreign language interpretation, translation, and transcription services. GAO conducted an outcome prediction alternative dispute resolution and informed the parties that the likely outcome was that the protest would be sustained, finding that the solicitation did not provide sufficient information to allow offerors to intelligently calculate their labor rates with respect to meal and lodging costs. GAO dismissed the protest as academic, based upon the agency’s proposed corrective action.
On November 2, WorldWide requested that GAO recommend reimbursement of the protester’s costs of filing and pursuing its protest with respect to its allegation that the solicitation was ambiguous. During an outcome prediction teleconference call, GAO indicated its view that WorldWide should be reimbursed its reasonable costs of filing and pursuing the single allegation. The agency represented that it agreed that WorldWide was entitled to reasonable costs and GAO dismissed WorldWide’s request as academic.
Basis of Protest
WorldWide now requests that GAO recommend reimbursement of attorneys’ fees at a rate higher than the $150 per hour statutory rate limit. WorldWide represents that the adjustment to the hourly rate of $150 per hour to between $289 and $291 per hour for attorneys’ fees is based on a calculation of a cost-of-living adjustment using the Consumer Price Index for U.S. City Average, as well as a formula expressed in prior GAO decisions. The Army indicated it takes no exception to the requested amount, agreeing the requested amount is reasonable and justified.
Request for Costs Granted
The $150 hourly rate for attorneys’ fees is stipulated by statute, unless the agency determines, based on the recommendation of the Comptroller General, that a special factor such as an increase in the cost of living justifies a higher fee.
Here, considering the Army’s representation that it didn’t object to the payment of WorldWide’s request for an adjusted rate, GAO granted WorldWide’s request. GAO, thus, recommended that the Army reimburse WorldWide for its attorneys’ fees at a rate higher than the statutory limit of $150 per hour based on an increase in cost of living.
General Counsel, P.C.’s Government Contracts Practice Group has extensive experience in government contract law, helping clients solve their government contract problems relating to the award or performance of a federal government contract, including bid protests, contract claims, small business concerns, and teaming and subcontractor relations. If you need more guidance or information, contact Lauren Travis, Senior Counsel in our Government Contracts practice area at General Counsel, P.C., 703-556-0411.