"For purposes of federal law, a 'bid protest' involves a written objection to the conduct of government agencies in acquiring supplies and services for their direct use or benefit. Such conduct can include (1) soliciting or otherwise requesting offers; (2) cancelling such solicitations or requests; (3) awarding or proposing to award a contract; (4) terminating or cancelling a contract due to improprieties involving its award; or (5) converting functions performed by government employees to private sector performance. Bid protests are of perennial interest to Congress, in part, because of the effects of protests on agency missions and operations. Congressional interest can also be prompted by notable protests (e.g., SpaceX's recent protest of contracts for launch services), as well as by agency determinations not to follow any nonbinding recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in deciding protests. GAO is not the only forum with authority to hear bid protests involving federal acquisitions. The procuring agency and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims can also hear bid protests. However, GAO hears more protests than the Court of Federal Claims, the only other forum for which data are readily available. Thus, its protest procedures--which can differ somewhat from those of the procuring agencies and the Court of Federal Claims--are the focus of this report."
CRS Report for Congress, R40228