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Friday, December 18, 2015

Agencies Cannot Use Their Websites as Substitutes for Notices

Although government contractors have a duty to keep alert for contracting opportunities, agencies have a duty to use, and not their own websites, to give contractors FAR-required notice of those opportunities. Posting notices of solicitations, amendments, and awards on internal websites like the DLA internet bid board system (DIBBS) or the Army Single Face to Industry (ASFI) website is not enough. Unless the agency has posted notices on, the agency has not given contractors proper notice, according to several recent protest decisions of the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

In one case, the Army issued via ASFI a significant solicitation amendment one week before the due date for bids, but for technical reasons the amendment was not posted on until 7 PM the night before bids were due. GAO concluded that the Army did not give vendors sufficient notice, and recommended that the Army reopen the solicitation and set a new due date for bids.

In another case, a contractor learned about a DLA opportunity only after seeing in DLA’s notice of a purchase order award. After the contractor protested to GAO the agency’s failure to give notice of the solicitation itself, DLA claimed that the contractor should have seen notice of the solicitation posted on DIBBS and therefore the contractor’s protest was too late. GAO disagreed, holding that the contractor’s protest clock began only after DLA posted notice of the award on

Contractors surprised by agency contract awards should not let an agency claim they should have known about the opportunity. Notice of a potential business opportunity is at the heart of full and open competition. Notice of an agency’s award of that business opportunity is at the heart of a contractor’s right to protest.

Terrence O'Connor is the Director of Government Contracts for Berenzweig Leonard, LLP, a business law firm in the D.C. region. Terry can be reached at

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Documents With Short Approval Deadlines Must Be Carefully Drafted

Short deadlines leave little room for error. When the government gives a contractor a short document approval deadline, the contractor’s initial submission should strictly follow regulations because there may not be time for required revisions, as an 8(a) joint venture found out recently.

In that case, the only remaining approval the JV needed to be awarded an 8(a) Army contract was the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s approval of the 8(a) JV Agreement. Unfortunately for the JV, the SBA by law had only five business days to approve the agreement. Because the JV had not properly drafted the agreement it originally submitted to the SBA, five business days was not enough time for the SBA to review and approve a revised agreement. After time ran out on both the SBA and the JV, the Army awarded the work to another 8(a).    

The JV’s loss of the Army contract was unfortunate and probably preventable. The agreement initially drafted by the JV and sent to the SBA for approval omitted several provisions specifically required by SBA regulations. If experienced legal counsel had been involved in the drafting of the JV agreement from the start, these required clauses would have been included in the initial JV agreement, and the short SBA deadline would most likely not have prevented the JV from getting the work.

The decision shows that getting experienced legal counsel to carefully draft foundation documents is essential to winning government contracts, especially when approval deadlines are short and leave little time for error.    

Terrence O'Connor is the Director of Government Contracts for Berenzweig Leonard, LLP, a business law firm in the D.C. region. Terry can be reached at