|(a) Any actual or prospective bidder, offeror, or contractor who is aggrieved in connection with the solicitation, evaluation, or award of a contract may formally protest to the Director of Business Services (the director). Such protests must be in writing and received in the director's office within 10 working days after such aggrieved person knows, or reasonably should have known, of the occurrence of the action which is protested, unless the director finds that good cause for delay is shown, or determines that a protest or appeal raises issues significant to the agency's procurement practices or procedures. (b) Formal protests must conform to the requirements of this paragraph and paragraph (d) of this section, and shall be resolved in accordance with the procedure set forth in paragraphs (d) and (e) of this section. Copies of the protest must be mailed or delivered by the protestant to the other interested parties. For the purposes of this section, "interested parties" are all vendors who have submitted bids or proposals for the contract involved. Names and addresses of all interested parties may be obtained by sending a written request for this information to the director. (c) In the event of a timely protest or appeal under this section, the agency shall not proceed further with the solicitation or with the award of the contract unless the director makes a written determination that the expeditious award of contract is necessary to protect substantial interests of the state. A copy of this determination shall be mailed to the protestant. (d) A formal protest petition must be sworn and must contain: (1) a specific identification of the statutory or regulatory provision(s) that the action complained of is alleged to have violated; (2) a specific description of each act alleged to have violated the statutory or regulatory provision(s) identified in paragraph (1) of this section; (3) a precise statement of the relevant facts; (4) an identification of the issue or issues to be resolved; (5) argument and authorities in support of the protest; and (6) a statement that copies of the protest have been mailed or delivered to the other interested parties. (e) The director shall have the authority to settle and resolve the dispute concerning the solicitation or award of a contract. The director may solicit written responses to the protest petition from other interested parties, and if he or she makes such a request, the protestant shall be given notice of the director's request and of any written responses to the request that the director receives. The director may consult with the Texas Building and Procurement Commission and the office of the General Counsel of the Board concerning the dispute. (f) If the protest is not resolved by mutual agreement, the director shall issue a written determination on the protest. (1) If the director determines that no violation of rules or statutes has occurred, he or she shall inform the protestant and other interested parties by a letter that sets forth the reasons for the determination. (2) If the director determines that a violation of the rules or statutes has occurred in a case where a contract has not been awarded, he shall inform the protestant and other interested parties by a letter that sets forth the reasons for the determination and the remedial action that he or she has determined is appropriate. (3) If the director determines that a violation of the rules or statutes has occurred in a case where a contract has been awarded, he shall inform the protestant and other interested parties by a letter which sets forth the reasons for the determination. In such a case, the director has the authority to declare the contract void. If he or she declares the contract void, this fact shall be included in the determination letter. (g) The director's determination on a protest may be appealed by an interested party to the Assistant Commissioner for Administrative Services. An appeal of the director's determination must be in writing and must be received in the Assistant Commissioner for Administrative Services' office no later than 10 working days after the date of the director's determination. An appeal of the determination shall be limited to those issues raised in the protest petition and the determination letter. Copies of the appeal must be mailed or delivered by the appealing party to the other interested parties and must contain a sworn statement that such copies have been provided. (h) The Assistant Commissioner for Administrative Services shall review the protest petition, the director's requests for input, and any written responses previously received from other interested parties, the determination, and the appeal, and shall issue a written decision on the protest. (i) A decision issued in writing by the Assistant Commissioner for Administrative Services shall be the final administrative action of the agency.