Sec. 17.17 - Initial protest procedures.

(a) If, as part of a protest, the protester requests a suspension or delay of procurement, in whole or in part, pursuant to 17.15(d), the Product Team shall submit a response to the request to the Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition within two (2) business days of receipt of the protest. Copies of the response shall be furnished to the protester and any intervenor(s) so as to be received within the same two (2) business days. The protester and any intervenor(s) shall have the opportunity of providing additional comments on the response within an additional period of two (2) business days. Based on its review of such submissions, the Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition, in its discretion, may recommend such suspension or delay to the Administrator or the Administrator's designee.

(b) Within five (5) business days of the filing of a protest, or as soon thereafter as practicable, the Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition shall convene a status conference to --

(1) Review procedures;

(2) Identify and develop issues related to summary dismissal and suspension recommendations;

(3) Handle issues related to protected information and the issuance of any needed protective order;

(4) Encourage the parties to use ADR;

(5) Conduct or arrange for early neutral evaluation of the protest by a DRO or Neutral or Compensated Neutral, at the discretion of the Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition and/or based upon the agreement or request of any party(ies) seeking such evaluation; and

(6) For any other reason deemed appropriate by the DRO or by the Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition.

(c) On the fifth business day following the status conference, the Product Team and protester will file with the Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition --

(1) A joint statement that they have decided to pursue ADR proceedings in lieu of adjudication in order to resolve the protest; or

(2) Joint or separate written explanations as to why ADR proceedings will not be used and why the Default Adjudicative Process will be needed..

(d) Should the Product Team and protester elect to utilize ADR proceedings to resolve the protest, they will agree upon the neutral to conduct the ADR proceedings (either an Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition-designated Neutral or a Compensated Neutral of their own choosing) pursuant to 17.33(c), and shall execute and file with the Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition a written ADR agreement within five (5) business days after the status conference. Agreement of any intervenor(s) to the use of ADR or the resolution of a dispute through ADR shall not be required.

(e) Should the Product Team or protester indicate at the status conference that ADR proceedings will not be used, then within ten (10) business days following the status conference, the Product Team will file with the Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition a Product Team Response to the protest. The Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition may alter the schedule for filing of the Product Team Response to accommodate the requirements of a particular protest.

(f) The Product Team Response shall consist of a written chronological statement of pertinent facts, and a written presentation of applicable legal or other defenses. The Product Team Response shall cite to and be accompanied by all relevant documents, which shall be chronologically indexed and tabbed. A copy of the response shall be furnished so as to be received by the protester and any intervenor(s) on the same date it is filed with the Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition, if practicable, but in any event no later than one (1) business day after the date if it is filed with the Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition. In all cases, the Product Team shall indicate the method of service used.

(g) Should the parties pursue ADR proceedings under subpart D of this part and fail to achieve a complete resolution of the protest via ADR, the Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition, upon notification of that fact by any of the parties, shall designate a DRO or Special Master for purposes of adjudication under subpart E of this part, and the DRO or Special Master shall convene a status conference, wherein he/she shall establish a schedule for the filing of the Product Team Response and further submissions.

(h) Upon submission of the Product Team Response, the protest will proceed under the Default Adjudicative Process pursuant to 17.37.

(i) The time limitations of this section maybe extended by the Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition for good cause.