An appeal filed by a federal employee protesting his agency’s decision to contract out work has been rejected by the General Accounting Office.
The employee, William A. Van Auken filed a protest against the decision by the Forest Service to contract out fleet maintenance services instead of having the work performed by federal employees.
The Department of Agriculture requested dismissal of the protest as being premature as the employee had also filed a protest on the same subject with the USDA.
While the employee’s protest was dismissed, GAO said that it was not addressing the issue of whether a federal employee could file a protest on an agency’s decision to contract out work and that “this dismissal should not be read as an indication of how our Office will ultimately resolve that question.”
With various agencies reviewing whether work should be contracted with private companies, the issue is likely to quickly come to the forefront again. GAO is telling readers that it has not decided the question on the standing of federal employees to file such a protest.
While it is not possible to know how GAO will ultimately rule on this issue, the decison cited the statutory provision controlling who can file an appeal. “The Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 (CICA) establishes the standard for standing to file a protest here by stating that a protest may only be filed by an “interested party,” which is defined in the statute as “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.”
In other words, it appears subsequent appeals by federal employees have a chance of being heard assuming all procedural requirements have been met.