Navy NGEN contract under protest

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Computer Sciences Corp. and Harris Corp. have protested the Navy's $3.45 billion contract award under the Next Generation Enterprise Network to incumbent HP Enterprise Services.

The Navy announced on June 27 their decision to have HP--already ensconced as the Navy's ashore network and seat management provider--be the prime contractor for the 5 year NGEN acquisition, meant to serve 800,000 end users. CSC and Harris co-led a team opposing HP; Navy officials said they chose the winner based on price, since both offers were technically acceptable.

Under Government Accountability Office bid protest regulations--the venue in which CSC and Harris filed the protest (they could have done so also with the Navy itself or gone to the Court of Federal Claims)--agency work on a protested contract generally stops if the protest is timely filed.

A timely filed protest triggers a provision in the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 requiring the agency to stay work, although an agency can override the stay if it produces a written finding that continuing performance is in the "best interests" of the United States or there are "urgent and compelling circumstances" that don't permit waiting for a GAO decision. Agencies rarely override the stay; GAO sets a deadline of taking no more than 100 days for issuing a decision after a protest is filed.

During a June 27 presser, Sean Stackley, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development & acquisition, told reporters that the department took pains to ensure "that in the event of a protest that the government prevail."

Successful protests must challenge government execution of the procurement process rather than the outcome itself. Stackley said the Navy conducted a number of reviews to ensure that request for proposal requirements can be traced to the evaluation criteria and that the Navy strictly followed the rules for discussions with industry proposers.

Asked about whether the June removal of the head of the NGEN program, Capt. Shawn Hendricks--reportedly due to a relationship with a subordinate coordinator--may be cause for a protest by an HP competitor alleging a conflict of interest within the program office, Navy officials said it shouldn't.

"No one involved either in the winning, or otherwise associated with one of the business teams, was associated in that instance," Stackley said.

For more
read the contact award announcement

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