The Headquarters of the Army Materiel Command (HQAMC) has an HQAMC-level protest program that is managed by the HQAMC Command Counsel. A standard clause included in all AMC solicitations and contracts makes bidders and offerors aware of this program.
An HQAMC protest is a “protest to the agency” within the meaning of FAR 33.103. The HQAMC-level protest program is intended to encourage interested parties to seek resolution of their concerns within AMC as an ADR forum, rather than filing a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) or other external forum.
Under this program, protests can be filed with the contracting officer (or other official at the contracting command designated to receive protests) or they can be filed directly with the HQAMC Command Counsel. If the protest is filed with AMC within GAO’s automatic stay period, the contracting officer must suspend performance, unless an override of the automatic stay is granted by HQAMC, based on the best interests of the United States. Because decisions in AMC-level protests are issued so quickly, HQAMC has never lifted a stop-work order in the history of the program.
The advantages to the unsuccessful offeror of filing a protest under the HQAMC-level protest program are: (1) AMC applies the same rules that apply in GAO protests, including the requirement to issue a stop-work order until the protest is resolved; (2) AMC will issue a decision within 35 days of filing whereas the GAO has 100 days to issue a decision; (3) there is virtually no cost associated with filing a protest with AMC since the offeror does not need to hire an attorney and can file a protest by email; and (4) AMC provides the same remedies that are available at the GAO. If AMC determines that a protest has merit, the subordinate contracting office is required to take corrective action. Even if AMC denies or dismisses the protest, AMC’s decision will address the merits of the protest so that the bidder or offeror fully understands the basis for the decision. Moreover, if the offeror is not satisfied with AMC’s decision in the protest, a subsequent protest can be filed with GAO or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
In 2003, the U.S. Office of Federal Procurement Policy formally recognized the HQAMC-level protest program as an outstanding acquisition ADR program in the federal government. Since then, the program has successfully resolved several hundred protests with, on average, 85 percent of offerors electing not to file additional protests with GAO or the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Offerors who file protests under the HQAMC-level protest program like it because it affords all of the remedies available at GAO in much less time and at much less cost. AMC leadership, program managers, and contracting officers like it because it keeps decision-making in-house, yields decisions quickly, and produces finality in the majority of cases.
For more information on the HQAMC-level protest program, go to the AMC Command Counsel’s website.