Bloomberg Law: Court holds that TSA illegally overrode an automatic stay of performance

March 7, 2019

U.S. Court of Federal Claims decides that the TSA unlawfully overrode an automatic stay of performance. A stay of performance is triggered when a protest is filed.

Aviation Security Management LLC was to receive a $48 million contract to provide airport security services for the TSA. TSA’s Screening Partnership Program (“SPP”) is a statutorily authorized program under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (“ATSA”) of 2001, which grants the Agency authority to procure airport security and screening services through the use of a private contract screening workforce under federal oversight. Technica LLC protested the award at the Government Accountability Office.

Judge Loren A. Smith agreed and notes that allowing TSA to override the automatic stay to stand would pull the Competition in Contracting Act’s “teeth from the GAO, rendering it a government body with a bark but no ability to bite,” which was not what Congress intended. “As such, th[e] Court must invalidate the [TSA’s] decision to override the stay.”