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(a) Right to protest. Any actual or prospective bidder or offeror who is aggrieved in connection with a formal solicitation may challenge a decision regarding the formal solicitation. A bidder or offeror is aggrieved only if the bidder or offeror can demonstrate that should the protest be sustained, the bidder or offeror may be eligible for the award, or the bidder or offeror may be eligible for the award of costs under subsection (h). The protest must be filed in writing with the Director:
(1) within 10 days after the Director publicly lists the proposed contract award if the bidder or offeror seeks as a remedy the award of the contract or costs under subsection (h); and
(2) before the submission date for bids or proposals if the bidder or offeror seeks as a remedy the cancellation or amendment of the solicitation.
(b) Authority to resolve protests. The Director has the authority to settle or resolve a protest under regulations.
(c) Appeal to Chief Administrative Officer. An actual or prospective bidder or offeror who is aggrieved by the decision of the Director may challenge the decision of the Director. The appeal must be filed in writing with the Chief Administrative Officer within 10 days of the Director's decision.
(d) Hearing. The Chief Administrative Officer may hold a hearing if necessary to resolve an appeal and may designate a hearing officer to take evidence, and make proposed findings and a recommendation.
(e) Decision. If the appeal is not resolved by mutual agreement, the Chief Administrative Officer in consultation with the County Attorney must adjudicate the protest on the record and issue a written decision. The decision must:
(1) state the reasons for the action taken; and
(2) inform the appellant of the right to an administrative appeal to the Circuit Court under the Maryland Rules.
(f) Appeal to court. The appellant may appeal the decision of the Chief Administrative Officer to the Circuit Court under the Maryland Rules. The appellant and the County may appeal the decision of the Circuit Court to the Court of Special Appeals.
(g) Award of contract during a protest. In the event of a timely protest or appeal, the Director, after consultation with the head of the Using Department, may award the contract without delay if the Director determines in writing that awarding the contract without delay is necessary to protect the interests of the County.
(h) Entitlement to costs. Any judgement in favor of a protesting bidder or offeror is limited to reasonable bid or proposal preparation costs if:
(1) the protesting bidder or offeror should have been awarded the contract; and
(2) the award has been made to another. (1994 L.M.C., ch. 30, § 1.)