It is the policy of the United States Coast Guard to issue solicitations and make contract awards in a fair and timely manner. Parties who believe a specific procurement is unfair or otherwise defective are encouraged to use the Coast Guard Ombudsman Program for Agency Protests (OPAP), rather than filing a protest with the General Accounting Office (GAO) or other external forum. The OPAP is designed to resolve contractor protests in a faster, less expensive manner. Concerns of interested parties can be resolved through independent, government binding adjudication taking place outside the procuring activity's chain of command.
Interested parties may seek resolution of their concerns informally or opt to file a formal agency protest with the contracting officer or Ombudsman.
Interested parties who believe that a Coast Guard procurement is unfair or otherwise defective should first direct their concerns to the applicable Contracting Officer. This can be accomplished through informal discussion between the interested party and the Contracting Officer. During the course of such discussions Contracting Officers shall ensure that the Chief of the Contracting Office (COCO) remains informed of all issues and developments as they occur. If the Contracting Officer is unable to satisfy the concerns of the interested party, the interested party is encouraged to contact the Coast Guard Ombudsman for Agency Protest through the Ombudsman Hotline at (202) 372-3695. Under this informal process, the agency is not required to suspend contract award or performance. Use of an informal forum does not suspend any time requirements for filing an agency protest or protest with another forum. Interested parties should provide the following information to the Ombudsman in order to ensure a timely response: solicitation/contract number, contracting office, Contracting Officer, and solicitation closing date (if applicable).
Prior to submitting a formal agency protest, contractors must first use their best efforts to resolve their concerns with the Contracting Officer through open and frank discussions. If the concerns cannot be resolved by the Contracting Officer, the Ombudsman may conduct an independent review through the informal forum. If the contractor’s concerns cannot be resolved informally, the contractor may file a Formal Agency Protest to either the Contracting Officer, or as an alternative, to the Ombudsman under the OPAP program. No contract award will be made pending resolution of the agency protest. Performance will be suspended during the protest period, if the protest is timely received in 10 days after contract award or within five days after a debriefing date offered to the protester following a timely debriefing request in accordance with the FAR 15.505 or 15.506. An award may be made or performance continued, however, if, justified by the HCA, in writing, for reasons of unusual and compelling urgency or determined by the HCA, in writing, to be in the best interest of the Government. The agency’s goal is to resolve protests in less than 35 calendar days from the date of filing. Protests shall include the information set forth in FAR 33.103(d) (2). If the protester fails to submit the required information, resolution of the protest may be delayed or the protest may be dismissed. To be timely protests must be filed within the period specified in FAR 33.103(e). Formal protests filed under the OPAP program may be submitted electronically to OPAP@uscg.mil and the Contracting Officer or by hand delivery to the Contracting Officer.