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SUBCHAPTER V–PROCUREMENT PROTEST SYSTEM 3551. Definitions. 3552. Protests by interested parties concerning procurement actions. 3553. Review of protests; effect on contracts pending decision. 3554. Decisions on protests. 3555. Regulations; authority of Comptroller General to verify assertions. 3556. Nonexclusivity of remedies; matters included in agency record.
SUBCHAPTER VI–RECOVERY AUDITS 3561. Identification of errors made by executive agencies in payments to contrac
tors and recovery of amounts erroneously paid. 3562. Disposition of recovered funds. 3563. Sources of recovery services. 3564. Management improvement programs. 3565. Relationship to authority of inspectors general. 3566. Privacy protections. 3567. Definition of executive agency.
SUBCHAPTER I-GENERAL $ 3501. Definition
In this chapter, "executive agency” does not include (except in section 3513 and subchapter VI of this title) a corporation, agency, or instrumentality subject to chapter 91 of this title.
SUBCHAPTER V-PROCUREMENT PROTEST SYSTEM $ 3551. Definitions In this subchapter:
(1) The term “protest” means a written objection by an interested party to any of the following:
(A) A solicitation or other request by a Federal agency for offers for a contract for the procurement of property or services.
(B) The cancellation of such a solicitation or other request.
(C) An award or proposed award of such a contract.
(D) A termination or cancellation of an award of such a contract, if the written objection contains an allegation that the termination or cancellation is based in whole or in part on improprieties concerning the award of the contract.
(2) The term "interested party", with respect to a contract or a solicitation or other request for offers described in paragraph (1), means an actual or prospective bidder or offeror whose direct economic interest would be affected by the award of the contract or by failure to award the contract.
(3) The term “Federal agency" has the meaning given such term by section 102 of title 40. $ 3552. Protests by interested parties concerning procure
ment actions A protest concerning an alleged violation of a procurement statute or regulation shall be decided by the Comptroller General if filed in accordance with this subchapter. $ 3553. Review of protests; effect on contracts pending deci
sion (a) Under procedures prescribed under section 3555 of this title, the Comptroller General shall decide a protest submitted to the Comptroller General by an interested party.
(b)(1) Within one day after the receipt of a protest, the Comptroller General shall notify the Federal agency involved of the protest.
(2) Except as provided in paragraph (3) of this subsection, a Federal agency receiving a notice of a protested procurement under paragraph (1) of this subsection shall submit to the Comptroller General a complete report (including all relevant documents) on the protested procurement
(A) within 30 days after the date of the agency's receipt of that notice;
(B) if the Comptroller General, upon a showing by the Federal agency, determines (and states the reasons in writing) that the specific circumstances of the protest require a longer period, within the longer period determined by the Comptroller General; or
(C) in a case determined by the Comptroller General to be suitable for the express option under section 3554(a)(2) of this title, within 20 days after the date of the Federal agency's receipt of that determination.
(3) A Federal agency need not submit a report to the Comptroller General pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subsection if the agency is sooner notified by the Comptroller General that the protest concerned has been dismissed under section 3554(a)(4) of this title.
(c)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, a contract may not be awarded in any procurement after the Federal agency has received notice of a protest with respect to such procurement from the Comptroller General and while the protest is pending.
(2) The head of the procuring activity responsible for award of a contract may authorize the award of the contract (notwithstanding a protest of which the Federal agency has notice under this section)
(A) upon a written finding that urgent and compelling circumstances which significantly affect interests of the United States will not permit waiting for the decision of the Comptroller General under this subchapter; and
(B) after the Comptroller General is advised of that finding.
(3) A finding may not be made under paragraph (2)(A) of this subsection unless the award of the contract is otherwise likely to occur within 30 days after the making of such finding.
(d)(1) A contractor awarded a Federal agency contract may, during the period described in paragraph (4), begin performance of the contract and engage in any related activities that result in obligations being incurred by the United States under the contract unless the contracting officer responsible for the award of the contract withholds authorization to proceed with performance of the contract.
(2) The contracting officer may withhold an authorization to proceed with performance of the contract during the period described in paragraph (4) if the contracting officer determines in writing that,
(A) a protest is likely to be filed; and
(B) the immediate performance of the contract is not in the best interests of the United States.
(3)(A) If the Federal agency awarding the contract receives notice of a protest in accordance with this section during the period described in paragraph (4)
(i) the contracting officer may not authorize performance of the contract to begin while the protest is pending; or
(ii) if authorization for contract performance to proceed was not withheld in accordance with paragraph (2) before receipt of the notice, the contracting officer shall immediately direct the contractor to cease performance under the contract and to suspend any related activities that may result in additional obligations being incurred by the United States under that contract.
(B) Performance and related activities suspended pursuant to subparagraph (A)(ii) by reason of a protest may not be resumed while the protest is pending.
(C) The head of the procuring activity may authorize the performance of the contract (notwithstanding a protest of which the Federal agency has notice under this section)
(i) upon a written finding that
(I) performance of the contract is in the best interests of the United States; or
(II) urgent and compelling circumstances that significantly affect interests of the United States will not permit waiting for the decision of the Comptroller General concerning the protest; and
(ii) after the Comptroller General is notified of that find(4) The period referred to in paragraphs (2) and (3)(A), with respect to a contract, is the period beginning on the date of the contract award and ending on the later of,
(A) the date that is 10 days after the date of the contract award; or
(B) the date that is 5 days after the debriefing date offered to an unsuccessful offeror for any debriefing that is requested and, when requested, is required.
(e) The authority of the head of the procuring activity to make findings and to authorize the award and performance of contracts under subsections (c) and (d) of this section may not be delegated.
(f)(1) Within such deadlines as the Comptroller General prescribes, upon request each Federal agency shall provide to an interested party any document relevant to a protested procurement action (including the report required by subsection (b)(2) of this section) that would not give that party a competitive advantage and that the party is otherwise authorized by law to receive.
(2)(A) The Comptroller General may issue protective orders which establish terms, conditions, and restrictions for the provision of any document to a party under paragraph (1), that prohibit or restrict the disclosure by the party of information described in subparagraph (B) that is contained in such a document.
(B) Information referred to in subparagraph (A) is procurement sensitive information, trade secrets, or other proprietary or confidential research, development, or commercial information.
(C) A protective order under this paragraph shall not be considered to authorize the withholding of any document or information from Congress or an executive agency. $ 3554. Decisions on protests
(a)(1) To the maximum extent practicable, the Comptroller General shall provide for the inexpensive and expeditious resolution of protests under this subchapter. Except as provided under paragraph (2) of this subsection, the Comptroller General shall issue a final decision concerning a protest within 100 days after the date the protest is submitted to the Comptroller General.
(2) The Comptroller General shall, by regulation prescribed pursuant to section 3555 of this title, establish an express option for deciding those protests which the Comptroller General determines suitable for resolution within 65 days after the date the protest is submitted.
(3) An amendment to a protest that adds a new ground of protest, if timely made, should be resolved, to the maximum extent practicable, within the time limit established under paragraph (1) of this subsection for final decision of the initial protest. If an amended protest cannot be resolved within such time limit, the Comptroller General may resolve the amended protest through the express option under paragraph (2) of this subsection.
(4) The Comptroller General may dismiss a protest that the Comptroller General determines is frivolous or which, on its face, does not state a valid basis for protest.
(b)(1) With respect to a solicitation for a contract, or a proposed award or the award of a contract, protested under this subchapter, the Comptroller General may determine whether the solicitation, proposed award, or award complies with statute and regulation. If the Comptroller General determines that the solicitation, proposed award, or award does not comply with a statute or regulation, the Comptroller General shall recommend that the Federal agency
(A) refrain from exercising any of its options under the contract;
(B) recompete the contract immediately;
(E) award a contract consistent with the requirements of such statute and regulation;
(F) implement any combination of recommendations under clauses (A), (B), (C), (D), and (E); or
(G) implement such other recommendations as the Comptroller General determines to be necessary in order to promote compliance with procurement statutes and regulations.
(2) If the head of the procuring activity responsible for a contract makes a finding under section 3553(d)(3)(C)(i)(I) of this title, the Comptroller General shall make recommendations under this subsection without regard to any cost or disruption from terminating, recompeting, or reawarding the contract.
(3) If the Federal agency fails to implement fully the recommendations of the Comptroller General under this subsection with respect to a solicitation for a contract or an award or proposed award of a contract within 60 days after receiving the recommendations, the head of the procuring activity responsible for that contract shall report such failure to the Comptroller General not later than 5 days after the end of such 60-day period.
(c)(1) If the Comptroller General determines that a solicitation for a contract or a proposed award or the award of a contract does not comply with a statute or regulation, the Comptroller General may recommend that the Federal agency conducting the procurement pay to an appropriate interested party the costs of
(A) filing and pursuing the protest, including reasonable attorneys' fees and consultant and expert witness fees; and
(B) bid and proposal preparation. (2) No party (other than a small business concern (within the meaning of section 3(a) of the Small Business Act)) may be paid, pursuant to a recommendation made under the authority of paragraph (1)
(A) costs for consultant and expert witness fees that exceed the highest rate of compensation for expert witnesses paid by the Federal Government; or
(B) costs for attorneys' fees that exceed $150 per hour unless the agency determines, based on the recommendation of the Comptroller General on a case by case basis, that an increase in the cost of living or a special factor, such as the limited availability of qualified attorneys for the proceedings involved, justifies a higher fee.
(3) If the Comptroller General recommends under paragraph (1) that a Federal agency pay costs to an interested party, the Federal agency shall
(A) pay the costs promptly; or