GAO protest is an instructive reminder to contractors regarding timeliness rule for protests filed before a required debriefing.
GAO's regulations generally provide that post-award protests must be filed within 10 days after the basis for protest is known or should have been known. 4 CFR § 21.2(a)(2). Where a debriefing is timely requested and required, however, an exception applies and "the initial protest shall not be filed before the debriefing date offered to the protester, but shall be filed not later than 10 days after the date on which the debriefing is held." 4 CFR § 21.2(a)(2).
As this decision shows, where a protester files a protest before a debriefing, GAO will dismiss it as premature. Yet, in such cases, protesters may still file their protest after a required debriefing; provided, that the protest otherwise meets GAO's timeliness requirements. As noted in footnote 5, "the requirement to renew protest allegations following receipt of a debriefing reflects the reality that a debriefing may resolve the protester's previously-expressed concerns."
Note: To obtain a "CICA stay," however, protesters must file a protest within 5 days after the debriefing ends. 31 USC § 3553(d)(4).
GAO Decision: https://www.gao.gov/products/B-417142.2#mt=;e-report