Inside Lockheed's $3B Hanford win

Years preparing for competition pays off with a $3B win

If you walked into one of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s capture team rooms, you would think you were walking into the hub of a political campaign. People of all ages and backgrounds are hunkered down in cubicles and conference rooms, devising strategies for how to win.

Capturing a multibillion-dollar contract is no small task even for one of the biggest companies in the government market. In some cases, it requires years, the right manpower and brain power, and some smart decision-making.

“It’s a multistage process, which I would suspect any of the large companies that work in the government space do when it comes to large contracts,” said Tom Grumbly, vice president of energy and environmental services at Lockheed Martin. “You’re setting up an organization within an organization whose only job it is is to attack this request for proposals.”

Grumbly, former undersecretary of the Clinton administration’s Energy Department, was tasked with making sure Lockheed Martin won DOE’s Hanford Mission Support contract, a $3 billion effort to provide various services to the agency and other contractors at the Washington state site. The win, finalized in April, was critical for the company because it has worked at the Hanford site since 1996.

One of the most important decisions in this capture process, which took more than a year, is deciding if the company should even go after the contract. Grumbly said he knew from the start that the DOE request for proposals would take significant financial resources and manpower. The company declined to reveal how much it cost to compete for the contract.

“These kinds of Department of Energy contracts require a ton of information and analysis to bid it,” Grumbly added. “It’s not a trivial decision.”

Then the team figured out the best people to work on the proposal, including the ones who would make the presentation to the government. The capture team for the Hanford site contract included about 30 core people, and an additional 70 people were brought in at different times to provide specific expertise on various pieces of the proposal. Some team members had the task of pretending to be a competitor and coming up with strategies on how to win the contract based on their strengths. Several experts focused on cost to make sure the company had the most accurate price tags on the work.

“We developed our proposal based on the toughest competitors and made sure ours was better,” Grumbly said. “It ended up working out for us.”

Grumbly has moved on to another role at Lockheed Martin. He said the role of capture manager, which he describes as a “gatherer of forces,” is not for the faint of heart.

“We’re investing significant resources in something that matters a lot to the future of the company," Grumbly said. "The amount of pressure they’re under is not trivial.” 

About the Author

Tania Anderson is a contributing writer to Washington Technology.

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