WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Carl Levin (D-MI) today introduced bipartisan legislation 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.
In April, the GAO determined 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.
“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. “The bill that we are introducing today will take an important step in providing that fairness.”
Specifically, the legislation would extend protest rights on behalf of federal employees to two officials—the Agency Tender Official (ATO) and the representative chosen by the affected federal officials, who are known collectively as the Most Efficient Organization (MEO). Either one of these parties would be given standing to file a protest with GAO on behalf of the MEO.
In formulating the legislation, Senator Collins and Levin and their staffs spoke with a wide variety of public and private stakeholders, including employee groups who would be affected by changes to the law, and the GAO.
Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) are also original co-sponsors of the legislation.