Lockheed Martin (LMT) Protests Award of Navy Contract to Northrop Grumman (NOC)

by: Matthew Potter
February 15, 2012

Category: Boeing, Business Line, Companies, Contract Awards, Department of Defense, development program, Events, Federal Budget Process, GAO, IT, Lockheed Martin, logistics, Northrop Grumman Corp., production program, Protest, Services, U.S. Navy | RSS 2.0

At the beginning of the month the U.S. Navy awarded the first in a series of contracts to begin installing consistent networks on ships. The initial value of this contract is for $36 million and would be for installations on 3 ships.

The Consolidated Afloat Networks Enterprise Services (CANES) program is to undergo testing this year and have a Milestone C Low Rate Initial Production Decision to support completion of the first install by the end of the year.

Northrop Grumman (NOC) beat out Lockheed Martin (LMT) for the production contract. Both had been awarded development contracts a few years ago. If all options on the contract are exercised it could be worth over $600 million and be installed on 54 ships. Next year after more testing there will be a Full Rate Production Decision leading to the award of a much larger contract.

Yesterday though Lockheed formally protested the award citing a belief in flaws with the Navy’s evaluation of the two proposals. The protest will be reviewed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) who have one hundred days to come to a decision. Normally the protested contract is placed on hold while the GAO conducts its review. If Lockheed disagrees with the result then they may appeal to the Federal courts.

Protests have been rising consistently over the last two decades as the Pentagon issues fewer contracts and company’s fight harder for market share. They are disruptive but Federal law allows almost any decision to be protested although the GAO often denies them. The biggest factor for now is that it delays the start of work by Northrop and disrupts the program’s schedule.

Unfortunately for the Services and the Defense Department many cases are decided in favor of the company protesting which continues to highlight the need for the process as some selection decisions have proved flawed for many reasons. The KC-X tanker contract originally awarded to Northrop was successfully protested by Boeing (BA) who won the contract upon a new competition was ordered.

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