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New Timeliness Rule Sinks Ferry’s Protest


Navigating in previously uncharted territory before the Federal Circuit, a ferry operator’s protest against award of the National Park Service’s Alcatraz Island concession contract is sunk on the shoals of a new timeliness rule that “a party who has the opportunity to object to the terms of a government solicitation containing a patent error and fails to do so prior to the close of the bidding process waives its ability to raise the same objection afterwards in a § 1491(b) action in the Court of Federal Claims.” In Blue & Gold, Fleet, L.P. v. U.S., (June 26, 2007), the court viewed the protest as a challenge to the terms of the solicitation (i.e., omission of Service Contract Act requirements) and thus affirmed the dismissal of the post-award protest as untimely on diverse theories of waiver, patent ambiguity, laches, and equitable estoppel, coupled with an analogy to the GAO timeliness rules, despite the acknowledged fact that “the jurisdictional grant of 28 U.S.C. § 1491(b) contains no time limit requiring a solicitation to be challenged before the close of bidding.”

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