In the current construction client, bid protests seem on the rise. For Federal projects, the most common protest venue is the General Accountability Office (GAO). But how long do you have to protest?
If the protest relates to something within the solicitation itself, the bid protest must be filed before bid opening, or such alleged defect is waived. If the protest relates to something post-opening, the basic rule is 10 calendar days from when the basis of protest is known or should have been known; which is generally from date of award or notice of intent to award. If you request a debrief, though, the protest can be filed 10 calendar days from the debrief.
But those dates do not account for the automatic stay provisions, if you intend to request a stay of the award pending your protest. If so, that requires the GAO to provide notice to the agency of the award at least 10 calendar days after contract award or 5 calendar days after a debriefing. This in turn means that GAO has to have the protest at least 1 calendar day prior to that so that the GAO can provide that notice to the agency.
Where it further gets tricky is the calendar days themselves since while the GAO can receive protests by email even on weekends that does not allow time for GAO to notify the agency. So, depending upon the calendar days in question your time to protest and obtain the stay can be shorter (much shorter) than the general rule of 10 days.
So, the takeaway: if you intend to file a GAO protest, pull out your calendar and count the days you need, while accounting for the notice requirement is you want to request the automatic stay.