14 CFR § 17.21 - Adjudicative Process for protests.

§ 17.21 Adjudicative Process for protests.

(a) Other than for the resolution of preliminary or dispositive matters, the Adjudicative Process for protests will be commenced by the ODRA Director pursuant to § 17.17(e).

(b) The Director of the ODRA shall appoint a DRO or a Special Master to conduct the adjudication proceedings, develop the administrative record, and prepare findings and recommendations for review of the ODRA Director.

(c) The DRO or Special Master may conduct such proceedings and prepare procedural orders for the proceedings as deemed appropriate; and may require additional submissions from the parties.

(d) The Product Team response to the protest will be due to be filed and served ten (10) business days from the commencement of the ODRA Adjudication process. The Product Team response shall consist of a written chronological, supported statement of proposed 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, individually tabbed, and certified as authentic and complete. 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 ODRA. In all cases, the Product Team shall indicate the method of service used.

(e) Comments of the protester and the intervenor on the Product Team response will be due to be filed and served five (5) business days after their receipt of the response. Copies of such comments shall be provided to the other participating parties by the same means and on the same date as they are furnished to the ODRA. Comments may include any supplemental relevant documents.

(f) The ODRA may alter the schedule for filing of the Product Team response and the comments for good cause or to accommodate the circumstances of a particular protest.

(g) The DRO or Special Master may convene the parties and/or their representatives, as needed for the Adjudicative Process.

(h) If, in the sole judgment of the DRO or Special Master, the parties have presented written material sufficient to allow the protest to be decided on the record presented, the DRO or Special Master shall have the discretion to decide the protest on that basis.

(i) The parties may engage in limited, focused discovery with one another and, if justified, with non-parties, so as to obtain information relevant to the allegations of the protest.

(1) The DRO or Special Master shall manage the discovery process, including limiting its length and availability, and shall establish schedules and deadlines for discovery, which are consistent with timeframes established in this part and with the FAA policy of providing fair and expeditious dispute resolution.

(2) The DRO or Special Master may also direct the parties to exchange, in an expedited manner, relevant, non-privileged documents.

(3) Where justified, the DRO or Special Master may direct the taking of deposition testimony, however, the FAA dispute resolution process does not contemplate extensive discovery.

(4) The use of interrogatories and requests for admission is not permitted in ODRA bid protests.

(5) Where parties cannot voluntarily reach agreement on a discovery-related issue, they may timely seek assistance from an ODRA ADR neutral or may file an appropriate motion with the ODRA. Parties may request a subpoena.

(6) Discovery requests and responses are not part of the record and will not be filed with the ODRA, except in connection with a motion or other permissible filing.

(7) Unless timely objection is made, documents properly filed with the ODRA will be deemed admitted into the administrative record.

(j) Hearings are not typically held in bid protests. The DRO or Special Master may conduct hearings, and may limit the hearings to the testimony of specific witnesses and/or presentations regarding specific issues. The DRO or Special Master shall control the nature and conduct of all hearings, including the sequence and extent of any testimony. Hearings will be conducted:

(1) Where the DRO or Special Master determines that there are complex factual issues in dispute that cannot adequately or efficiently be developed solely by means of written presentations and/or that resolution of the controversy will be dependent on his/her assessment of the credibility of statements provided by individuals with first-hand knowledge of the facts; or

(2) Upon request of any party to the protest, unless the DRO or Special Master finds specifically that a hearing is unnecessary and that no party will be prejudiced by limiting the record in the adjudication to the parties' written submissions. All witnesses at any such hearing shall be subject to cross-examination by the opposing party and to questioning by the DRO or Special Master.

(k) The Director of the ODRA may review the status of any protest in the Adjudicative Process with the DRO or Special Master.

(l) After the closing of the administrative record, the DRO or Special Master will prepare and submit findings and recommendations to the ODRA that shall contain the following:

(1) Findings of fact;

(2) Application of the principles of the AMS, and any applicable law or authority to the findings of fact;

(3) A recommendation for a final FAA order; and

(4) If appropriate, suggestions for future FAA action.

(m) In preparing findings and recommendations in protests, the DRO or Special Master, using the preponderance of the evidence standard, shall consider whether the Product Team actions in question were consistent with the requirements of the AMS, had a rational basis, and whether the Product Team decision was arbitrary, capricious or an abuse of discretion. Notwithstanding the above, allegations that government officials acted with bias or in bad faith must be established by clear and convincing evidence.

(n) The DRO or Special Master has broad discretion to recommend a remedy that is consistent with § 17.23.

(o) A DRO or Special Master shall submit findings and recommendations only to the Director of the ODRA or the Director's designee. The findings and recommendations will be released to the parties and to the public upon issuance of the final FAA order in the case. If an ODRA protective order was issued in connection with the protest, or if a protest involves proprietary or competition-sensitive information, a redacted version of the findings and recommendations, omitting any protected information, shall be prepared wherever possible and released to the public, as soon as is practicable, along with a copy of the final FAA order. Only persons admitted by the ODRA under the protective order and Government personnel shall be provided copies of the unredacted findings and recommendations that contain proprietary or competition-sensitive information.

(p) Other than communications regarding purely procedural matters or ADR, there shall be no substantive ex parte communication between ODRA personnel and any principal or representative of a party concerning a pending or potentially pending matter. A potential or serving ADR neutral may communicate on an ex parte basis to establish or conduct the ADR.

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