Link: GAO Opinion
Agency: Transportation Security Administration
Disposition: Request granted.
Keywords: Attorney Fee Cap
General Counsel P.C. Highlight: In reimbursing attorney’s fees following a successful protest, an agency may pay more than the fee cap of $150 per hour where the increase is consistent with the Government’s Consumer Price Index.
General Dynamics protested the award of a contract by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) under a request for proposals (RFP) for computer support services. GAO sustained the protests, issued corrective action, and recommended that the agency reimburse costs.
General Dynamics filed a claim for protest costs with the agency, which included a request for reimbursement of attorneys’ fees at a higher rate than the statutory max of $150/hour. TSA makes no objection to the higher rate. GAO states that the successful protester may receive a higher hourly rate in reimbursing attorney’s fees where the protester is a small business concern or where the agency determines, on a case by case basis, that a special factor, such as cost of living or special expertise, justifies a higher fee. In this case, the protester is not a small business, but GAO states that the higher rate is justified to adjust for the cost of living increase where the rate is increased in accordance with the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Consumer Price Index (CPI).
GAO finds that General Dynamics provided TSA a detailed explanation of the enhanced attorney fee rate using DOL’s CPI-All Urban Consumers, which is consistent with GAO’s prior decisions, and since TSA does not object, GAO recommends reimbursement at the higher rate.