As we previously reported here and here, between October 1 and December 14, 2016, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) lacked jurisdiction to hear most civilian agency task order protests (its jurisdiction over protest of Department of Defense (DoD) task order awards was unaffected by the lapse). On December 14, President Obama signed legislation reinstating GAO’s jurisdiction over protests of civilian task orders greater than $10 million. He subsequently signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2017, which raised the threshold for DoD task order protests from $10 to $25 million.
In what appeared to be a response to industry complaints that new Defense Department rules would disincentivize companies from embarking on new research projects on their own initiative, the Pentagon is developing a new web portal to make it easier for firms to let the government know about their independent research & development (IR&D) activities.
At issue is a final rule DoD published in November. Reasoning that the government needs more insight into the more than $4 billion in reimbursements it issues to contractors for IR&D projects each year, DoD required large firms to hold a “technical interchange” with at least one DoD official before starting work on a R&D project — at least if they wanted to be reimbursed for their allowable costs.