It is generally acknowledged that with the advent of protective orders, the GAO's bid protest process became more meaningful. Recently, the GAO updated its protective order guidelines in response to feedback from the public and in light of the GAO's own realizations that changes could and should be made. In May of 2006, the GAO issued its "Guide to GAO Protective Orders" ("Guide"), which explains the new changes and the reasons for them.
The Guide describes protected material as "[p]roprietary or confidential information, source-selection-sensitive information, or other information, the release of which could result in a competitive advantage to one or more firms …." Material that falls under this definition "includes information whether on paper or in any electronic format." As GAO's standard Notification of Protective Order states, "Individuals covered under a protective order are required to take all precautions necessary to prevent disclosure of protected material."
The newly revised protective order, according to the Guide, "permits parties to make up to 3 copies of protected material, permits electronic transmission of protected material unless a party objects, and [a reduction in] the reporting time for violations of [GAO's] protective order from 5 years to 2 years."
The Guide also explains the application process for a protective order, use of protected material before other tribunals, and violations of protective orders. With the growing importance of GAO bid protests, these changes to the protective order process are a must read.
This update is published by Venable LLP. Venable publications are not intended to provide legal advice or opinion. Such advice may only be given when related to specific fact situations. © Copyright by Venable LLP 2006.