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Monday, March 24, 2014

Critical national security assets protested. Another day in the office.

Seems like every protest on Guam, and perhaps where you live, is a crisis of some critical government operation, requiring great wringing of hands, headlines and calls for emergency procurement or political interference.

Here are three articles from today's Google News dealing with protests, but no histrionics.

U.S. Army delays decision on General Dynamics vehicle protest

(Reuters) - The U.S. Army said on Monday that it would delay until April 4 making a ruling on a protest filed by General Dynamics Corp about a new competition for armored vehicles.

General Dynamics filed a protest with the Army on Feb. 14, arguing that the Army's rules for a competition to replace nearly 2,900 Vietnam-era M113 infantry carriers were skewed to favor BAE Systems Plc's Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The company is also pressing U.S. lawmakers to intervene in the Army's Armed Multi-purpose Vehicle (AMPV) competition and to mandate that a mixed fleet includes a version of both BAE's Bradleys and General Dynamics' wheeled Stryker vehicles.

Keating said General Dynamics was evaluating its options in case the Army rejected the protest. If that happens, the company would have 10 days to lodge a protest with the congressional Government Accountability Office, which rules on contract disputes. The company could also take its case to federal court.

BAE Systems argues that the Army cannot afford further delays since the existing M113 infantry vehicles are not suited to protect U.S. soldiers against direct fire attacks by today's more powerful rocket-propelled grenades and other threats. Mark Signorelli, vice president and general manager of combat vehicles for BAE, said the Army had been very open and transparent about its requirements for the new vehicles, and had already extended the development program to five years.

"They've been very conscious of and attentive to industry needs," he said, noting that the Army issued its final request for proposal after roughly two years of dialogue with industry representatives.

General Dynamics contends it would not have enough time or data to develop a Bradley-like vehicle on the Army's schedule, and has even suggested a teaming arrangement with BAE - although BAE declined.
Ingalls Protesting US Coast Guard Cutter Contract
Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) is protesting the US Coast Guard’s Feb. 11 award of design contracts for the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) program, reportedly citing questions about the grading criteria.

The new cutters were originally part of the Deepwater program, a sprawling effort spread over two decades to upgrade and replace most of the Coast Guard’s ships, aircraft and systems. The program, originally ministered by Northrop Grumman — previous owner of HII — and Lockheed Martin, was broken up after Congress demanded more oversight from the service, and the Coast Guard now directly manages its acquisition programs.

“Ingalls Shipbuilding recently received a debriefing of the offshore patrol cutter evaluation and we have decided to protest the Coast Guard’s decision,” said Beci Brenton, a company spokeswoman here. “Ingalls Shipbuilding offered the Coast Guard a strong, fully compliant proposal to provide a very capable, cost-effective offshore patrol cutter design and [we] believe our protest has merit.”

The Coast Guard awarded contracts to three firms — General Dynamics (GD) Bath Iron Works, Bollinger Shipyards and Eastern Shipbuilding — to produce preliminary and contract designs for the OPC, a program that envisions up to 25 ships worth approximately $10.5 billion. Each of the Feb. 11 awards was for about $22 million.

A bevy of shipyards have been vying for the OPC award, one of the biggest new US government surface ship construction efforts envisioned this decade.

HII’s protest was filed with the Government Accountability Office on Feb. 25. Based on the standard 100-day period for the GAO to review the protest and issue a ruling, a decision is expected in early June. Until then, under government rules work under the contract awards is suspended.
Feds deny Pantex contractor's latest bid protest
The Government Accountability Office on Thursday denied a bid protest filed by Nuclear Production Partners LLC that challenged the National Nuclear Security Administration’s decision last year to award a multibillion-dollar contract to Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC to manage and operate Pantex Plant.

Babcock and Wilcox Technical Services Group Inc. established Nuclear Production Partners to pursue a $22 billion-plus contract that includes Pantex and a Tennessee nuclear weapons facility.

“Today’s decision resolves NPP’s protest of the agency’s corrective action taken in response to our earlier decision,” the GAO said in a statement. “GAO concluded that the agency’s corrective action was consistent with the requirements of the Federal Acquisition Regulation and properly limited to address the specific defects in the prior source selection process. In addition, our decision rejected NPP’s various complaints about the substance of the agency’s evaluation and the source selection decision.”

NNSA spokeswoman Keri Fulton said in a written statement that the agency expects to begin transitioning to the new contractor shortly.

“We are glad that GAO dismissed the protest and will begin the contract transition at Y-12 and Pantex as soon as possible. The men and women at each site have done their jobs admirably despite the distractions the contract process brought with it, and we are moving forward with our work to keep the American people safe,” she said.

NNSA has twice awarded the massive contract to Consolidated Nuclear Security, a contractor group headed by Bechtel National, but Nuclear Production Partners has protested the contract award three times.
One theme running through these three articles is the length of time the solicitation, protest and award can take, especially when big money is involved. It seems a lot of time is allowed and even planned for as part of the process. 

I do not believe that the review process is even considered let alone factored into any timeline when a solicitation is commenced on Guam. They usually aren't even planned, just thrown into motion ad hoc.  Hopefully, this will change.

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