With the fiscal year coming to a close, federal agencies are issuing notices of award and disappointed offeror letters. Because of the push toward category management and the growth in government-wide acquisition contracts (GWAC) and indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts, many of the procurements involve task orders. Although a task order may be similar to a contract in many respects, the rules that apply to protesting the award of a task order are different. Understanding these rules is essential for any government contractor competing for task order awards. Below are five things contractors should know about task order protests.

  1. If a task order is issued under a GWAC (e.g., Alliant 2, CIO-SP3, SEWP) or an IDIQ contract, the award can be protested only if the awarded value of the task order exceeds a minimum dollar threshold. If the task order is awarded under a Department of Defense GWAC or IDIQ, the awarded value must exceed $25M. If the task order is awarded under a civilian agency contract vehicle, the awarded value must exceed $10M.
  2. Protests of task orders issued under GWACs and IDIQs can only be filed at the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The Court of Federal Claims (COFC) does not have jurisdiction to hear the protest, and agency-level protests are also not allowed.
  3. There is a narrow exception to the limits in Numbers 1 and 2; if a protester argues that the task order increases the scope, period, or maximum value of the master contract, the protest may be filed with GAO, the agency, or the COFC, and there is no minimum value requirement.
  4. If a task order is awarded under a General Services Administration Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contract, the dollar limits discussed above do not apply. A disappointed offeror may protest the award of a task order issued under an FSS contract, regardless of the award value. And, the protest may be filed with the agency, GAO, or the COFC.
  5. For a size protest, there is no minimum award value requirement. Instead, to file a size protest, the solicitation must have required offerors to recertify their size. In many procurements, offerors certify their size and status when the GWAC or IDIQ is awarded. There is no jurisdiction for a size protest of a task order unless the Contracting Officer explicitly requires offerors to recertify.

In this competitive environment, every procurement can be critical. Understanding the rules that apply to task order protests can give a contractor an advantage. If you have questions about protests or other concerns related to government contracting, please contact a member of PilieroMazza’s Government Contracts Group.

Michelle Litteken, the author of this blog, is Counsel in the Firm’s Government Contracts Claims and AppealsGovernment ContractsFalse Claims Act, and Litigation & Dispute Resolution practice groups.