Fiscal Year 2020 GAO Annual Report with Sustain Rates

Posted on January 25, 2021

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) published its annual report to Congress for the 2020 year on December 23, 2020. Of note, despite having to shift to a full-time virtual environment due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the GAO did not exceed the 100-day deadline for any bid protest brought before it.

The sustain rate rose slightly, from 13% in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 to 15% in FY2020. However, the effectiveness rate rose to 51% for FY2019 from 44% in FY2020. The effectiveness rate is based on the protestor obtaining some form of relief from the agency. Relief can take many forms, from agency taking voluntary corrective action or from the GAO sustaining a protest.

Overall, the total cases filed before the GAO (2,149) dipped only 2% from FY2019. ADR was used in 124 of those cases, the highest number over the past five years. The success rate of these ADR cases was 82%.

The GAO disclosed the top four reasons for sustaining protests in FY2020:
(1) unreasonable technical evaluationsee E.g., Leidos Innovations Corp., B-417568.3, B-417568.4, May 11, 2020, 2020 CPD ¶ 167
(2) flawed solicitationSee Blue Origin Florida, LLC, B-417839, Nov. 18, 2019, 2019 CPD ¶ 388
(3) unreasonable cost or price evaluation; See Sayres & Assocs. Corp., B-418374, Mar. 30, 2020, 2020 CPD ¶ 115
(4) unreasonable past performance evaluationSee Addx Corp., B-417804 et al., Nov. 5, 2019, 2020 CPD ¶ 118
Of note: none of the top reasons from FY2019 (inadequate documentation of the record; flawed selection decision; and unequal treatment) were listed as the most prevalent reasons for the GAO sustaining a protest.