Although government contractors have a duty to keep alert for contracting opportunities, agencies have a duty to use FedBizOpps.gov, 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 FedBizOpps.gov, 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 FedBizOpps.gov until 7 PM the night before bids were due. GAO concluded that the Army did not give vendors sufficient FedBizOpps.gov 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 FedBizOpps.gov DLA’s notice of a purchase order award. After the contractor protested to GAO the agency’s failure to give FedBizOpps.gov 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 FedBizOpps.gov.
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.