WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate today approved a measure sponsored by Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Carl Levin (D-MI) to ensure that federal employees will have the right to appeal to the General Accounting Office (GAO) during and after job competitions with private sector contractors. Private sector contractors already have appeal rights.
Their measure was included as part of the Department of Defense authorization bill, which is currently under debate in the Senate.
In April, the GAO held that federal employees lack standing to file protests with the GAO in A-76 competitions, during which an in-house team of employees may compete with the private sector to provide a particular service or activity. The GAO encouraged legislators to address the issue and to consider amending the Competition in Contracting Act, the law governing the federal government bid protest process. The Collins-Levin legislation would amend the Act along the lines recommended by the GAO.
“Our legislation will strengthen the competitive sourcing program by leveling the playing field for all parties,” said Senator Collins. “Providing federal employees with the ability to protest job competition decisions much as the private sector can isn’t about litigation rights; it’s about fairness.”
“It is basic fairness that the public side of a public-private competition should have the same appeal rights as the private side of the competition,” Senator Levin said. “Our amendment will take an important step in providing that fairness.”
Under the legislation, either the Agency Tender Official (ATO) or the representative chosen by the federal employees could file a protest with GAO on behalf of the employees.