32.6 Roles and responsibilities of the parties during a protest
32.6.1 Responsibilities of the purchasing agency
The purchasing agency must:
- Acknowledge receipt of the protest.
- Distribute all correspondence related to the protest to all parties.
- Immediately review the facts of the solicitation process:
- Interview all participants in the solicitation and award process.
- Thoroughly review all documentation in the procurement file.
- Analyze the concerns raised in the protest and determine if valid issues have been raised.
- Determine if contract award was made in compliance with terms and conditions of the solicitation as well as the Code of Virginia.
- Determine if the solicitation process itself was handled properly, accurately and in a professional manner, which reflected fairness, objectivity and equal access to participants.
- Determine if award decisions and actions were properly documented in the procurement file.
- Determine if the agency is likely to prevail if litigation is filed by the protesting supplier. Evaluate the risk and potential liabilities and determine the most likely outcomes.
- Provide the protesting supplier with a written response which states whether the agency has determined if the protest is valid or invalid within ten days of receipt of the protest. The purchasing agency’s decision shall be final unless the supplier appeals within ten days of receipt of the agency’s decision by invoking ADR (see https://www.vita.virginia.gov/supply-chain/sell-to-vita/alternative-dispute-resolution-procedure/) or by instituting legal action as provided in § 2.2-4364 of the Code of Virginia.
- Take immediate steps to correct the situation if there is a determination that the purchasing agency is in error or that the terms and conditions of the solicitation were not followed.
- Maintain an official protest file which includes copies of all documents relating to the protest.
- Coordinate with all parties to schedule any protest conferences or meetings, including distributing official notification of such meetings.
- Administer research and respond timely to any FOIA requests received in conjunction with the protest.
- Conduct a lessons-learned or debrief evaluation of the solicitation process and award decision. After lessons learned are documented and placed in the agency’s protest file, the agency should work to make any changes to its current procedures or processes that may preclude similar protests in the future.