Federal Employee Union Cannot File Bid Protest

A union representing federal employees in a job contracting bid does not have standing to file a bid protest.

The GAO has dismissed the protest filed by the local union president who was attempting to challenge a decision by the Department of Labor that certain accounting functions performed in-house should be competed under OMB Circular A-76.

In the Matter of Lawrence C. Drake, File No. B-298143, April 7, 2006, Mr. Drake filed the protest in his capacity as the President of the local chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees when he was informed that the competition for some 150 accounting functions would proceed, pitting in-house performance against performance by contract.

The decision impacts employees represented by the union.

The GAO denied the protest on the grounds that Mr. Drake is not an interested party that could file a bid protest as provided for under the Competition In Contracting Act.

That Act and the GAO bid protest regulations implementing it do not permit a union representative to file a protest involving an A-76 contracting out action.

Congress recently amended the law to permit standing to protest by the agency official who submits the agency’s in-house bid. Congress did not grant standing to unions to file such protests.

Should such a protest be filed, then the union or another representative of a majority of the agency employees affected by the contracting-out process would be able to intervene in the protest. However, the union does not have standing to initiate a protest on its own.

About the Author

Susan McGuire Smith spent most of her federal legal career with NASA, serving as Chief Counsel at Marshall Space Flight Center for 14 years. Her expertise is in government contracts, ethics, and personnel law.