Could a vendor protest if the Government were to award more contracts than they anticipated? Could there be any consequences for this?
Yes, a vendor can protest any perceived or real infraction. The real question is whether a protest has any merit! If you review protest decisions on www.gao.gov, you will notice rulings frequently involve “reasonableness” and some wording combination that addresses whether the Government followed the rules it established in the solicitation. For instance, in negotiated acquisitions the solicitation includes FAR 52.215-1(f)(6), which tells the contractor that the Government reserves the right to make multiple awards if it is in the Government’s best interest. You’ll find similar language for sealed bidding and commercial contracts in FAR 52.214-22 and FAR 52.212-1 respectively. So there shouldn’t ever be an issue showing that the Government informed the contractors about the potential for multiple awards. Given the information you provided in your scenario, the Government established an expectation of at least five awardees in the solicitation. But was the Government reasonable? If you say five at a minimum, but award 105 contracts, the contractor will likely have an issue with it. “Reasonableness” is subjective and it’s one of the main reasons we encourage Contracting Officers to fully utilize legal support.
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