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Motorola tops Harris in protest battle

Sometimes, I read bid protest decisions and my head spins; it’s a lot of legal talk, and the issues at hand often deal with the minutia of procurement law that I struggle to grasp.

But when I read the Government Accountability Office’s recent decision in favor of Motorola Solutions for a contract to supply a land mobile radio system for the Army’s Detroit Arsenal, the issues were pretty clear.

Harris Corp. won the contract with a $2.5 million bid, compared to Motorola’s $1.9 million bid.

But Motorola’s protest had nothing to do with price; instead, it had to do with the radios Harris was proposing in its bid.

The Army was using a best-value approach, so a variety of factors such as technical solutions, information assurance and management plan were more important than price.

One of the requirements in the request for proposals said that the radios had to meet the requirements of the Michigan Public Safety Communication System.

And there’s the rub because Harris didn’t have a radio that met those requirements; instead, Harris would supply a Motorola radio until its own radio was approved by the Michigan Public Safety Commission System, according to GAO.

Motorola had to fight to extract that information from the Army, but I’m sure that once they confirmed it, they knew they would prevail in the protest because another requirement in the RFP said that if the bidder wasn’t providing their own radio, they had to make an attestation (a great, legal word) to show they had a relationship with the manufacturer of the radio they were going to use.

Motorola argued that the Army should have never accepted Harris’ bid because Motorola would never sell the radios to Harris because it is a direct competitor. The radio in question, the APX 7000, is considered a mission-critical product by Motorola and isn’t sold on the open market. Motorola’s authorized independent resellers can’t sell them without getting the company’s approval first.

A sale to Harris is something they’d never approve.

The Army maintained to GAO that its decision to pick Harris was “reasonable,” but GAO didn’t buy it.

The recommendation is that they reevaluate bids and make a new decision. While GAO stops short of directing the Army to give the contract to Motorola, GAO does want the service to reimburse the company the cost of pursing the protest including attorney fees.

This looks like a protest that was worth pursuing.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 07, 2014 at 12:44 PM


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