Government Contract Bid Protests 'In Brief': Analysis of Legal Processes and Recent Developments [January 19, 2018] [open pdf - 595KB]
"In FY2017, the federal government obligated approximately $500 billion to procure goods and services. Federal procurement statutes and regulations--notably the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 (CICA) and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), the government-wide regulation that generally applies to acquisitions by executive branch agencies--establish largely uniform policies and procedures for how federal executive agencies acquire goods and services. The purpose of these standards is to guide the acquisition system 'to deliver on a timely basis the best value product or service to the [government], while maintaining the public's trust and fulfilling public policy objectives,' such as the promotion of competition. In an effort to advance the transparency, fairness, and integrity of the procurement system, federal law provides mechanisms for contractors to 'protest' (i.e., object to) contract awards and solicitations for failing to comply with federal law. However, empowering contractors to protest procurement decisions has the potential to delay agency acquisitions of goods and services. In recent years, Congress has paid increasing attention to achieving and maintaining the appropriate balance between these competing interests, particularly regarding defense acquisition. For example, the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) required the Department of Defense (DOD) to contract for a comprehensive study on the impact of bid protests on acquisitions, which was released in December 2017."
CRS Report for Congress, R45080