WT Business Beat

OASIS protest stands little chance of success

Rudy Sutherland and his law firm, Aljucar, Anvil-Incus & Co., may have a point about how the General Services Administration structured the $60 billion OASIS contract.

He doesn’t like the way that past performance is counted for small businesses that pursue the contract as a joint venture. He thinks it is unfair and too restrictive.

GSA rejected his argument, and now he’s turned to the Government Accountability Office, filing a formal protest on Monday.

But the catch is that Aljucar is a law firm, and not a potential bidder, which raises the whole question of whether it can be considered an “interested party.”

According to GAO regulations, an interested party is an actual bidder or prospective bidder with an economic interest in the contract.

So, even if Sutherland is right, his protest likely stands little chance of success because GSA is likely to argue that Sutherland and Aljucar aren’t bidders, so therefore they don’t have standing to file a protest.

Another point about Sutherland's argument is that no small businesses (actual bidders) have stepped into the breach to complain with their own pre-award protest. So, he’s flying solo on this one.

Proposals for OASIS, which also includes an unrestricted portion as well as the small business portion, are due Oct. 10.

A pre-award protest won’t change that date, but if the protest drags out, it could delay the award. As large and complex as OASIS is, though, I’d expect the protest to be resolved long before the awards.

And then, of course, we’re likely to see post-award protests from losing bidders. So, whether Sutherland is successful or not, I doubt this is the last time we see “protest” and “OASIS” in the same sentence.

Posted on Sep 24, 2013 at 11:26 AM1 comments

Lockheed's Hewson creates distinct public image

Lockheed Martin has a long line of larger than life leaders.

The founders of the Lockheed half of the company were Allan and Malcolm Loughead (pronounced Lockheed), pioneers of aviation who started their company in 1912. The Martin side came from Glenn Martin, who also founded his company in 1912. Martin Marietta merged with Lockheed in 1995.

Martin Marietta’s CEO was Norm Augustine, who became chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin and cemented his standing as a legend of the defense industry. His book, Augustine’s Laws, is in its sixth edition.

He left a large shadow when he retired in the late 1990s, but the likes of Vance Coffman and Robert Stevens found ways to shine as leaders of the world’s largest defense company. Coffman took over a company saddled with debt from a string of major mergers and acquisitions. I remember the stock price languishing around $20 a share.

Stevens took over in 2004, and led the company through both extraordinary growth and the start of the current defense downturn.

Now, it is Marillyn Hewson’s turn. She took over Jan. 1 as CEO, and will become chairman in 2014. She started off being relatively quiet, but she’s begun establishing herself as a thought leader, not just for Lockheed but for the defense industry as a whole.

And for the normally reserved defense industry, she’s taken a public and now personal route.

In an essay yesterday in Politico, Hewson shares the story of losing her father at the age of 9, and how her mother worked two jobs to raise five children. “What my mother taught me about leadership is the importance of determination,” Hewson writes.

The column is part of a Politico series called Women Rule, where women talk about other women that have inspired them.

Hewson’s contribution is both inspiring and insightful. When you read her story, it’s not surprising that she was able to step so quickly and forcefully into the role of CEO at Lockheed in the wake of the Chris Kubasik scandal.

As someone who writes for a living, I also like that Hewson has chosen the written word as a vehicle for making her mark. In addition to the Politico piece, she’s also a contributor to LinkedIn’s Influencer blog.

Her most recent post – her second – appeared on Thursday, and is called “The First Things a New Leader Should Do to Build Trust.”

Her first post was on innovation.

I like that Hewson is putting herself out there. She has opinions and a view point. People can disagree with her (though I dare anyone to disagree with a mom story) or call her out. She leads a company with 116,000 employees, and the last few years have been tough for morale with layoffs and buyouts. So, as a leader, you put yourself at risk when you write so publicly about “guiding principles” and “building trust.”

But you can also argue that the risk is greater if you aren’t out front on those topics. When times are tough and great change is in the works, that’s when leaders need to step forward and explain who they are and what they stand for.

That Hewson is doing that in such a public way tells me that she’s putting her mark on Lockheed and the defense industry. She’ll be a go-to person not just for the defense industry, but for the business community in general. She recently was appointed to the Export Council by President Obama. The council promotes international trade. 

Her writing also tells me that she and Lockheed recognize that world has changed and the tools of communications have changed. She’s on LinkedIn, a leading social media site, and now Politico, where anyone can comment and react.

Will this make Lockheed as hip as Google or Amazon? No, but it is a recognition that if you want to be part of the conversation, and even lead the conversation in today’s world, you’ve got to be where people are talking, and that’s what Hewson is doing.

Posted on Sep 20, 2013 at 2:24 PM1 comments

Harris joins NetCents II protests

Harris Corp. has joined the list of protestors objecting to the Air Force’s most recent award decisions for its $6.9 billion NetCents II Products contract.

Harris is a little later than the others, filing its protest with the Government Accountability Office on Sept. 16. The other seven protestors filed between Sept. 3 and Sept. 6. Decisions on the protests are due in December.

The Air Force announced its award decision on Aug. 26, when it added eight more winners to the eight winners it had picked in April. That still left eight companies without contracts, and now all eight have filed protests.

The NetCents II Products contract has now gone through three rounds of awards and three rounds of multiple companies filing protests. After rounds one and two, the Air Force pulled back its awards and said it would rethink its decision.

One thing that has irked the losing companies in round three is that the Air Force didn’t ask for new proposals, but just picked the next eight lowest bidders.

In its source selection decision document, the Air Force said that in reviewing its decision a substantive corrective action wasn’t needed. It added more companies out of fairness to companies that won in round one, but lost in round two. It didn't make much sense to me, either.

Obviously, the Air Force’s reasoning hasn’t satisfied the losing bidders, but the Air Force this time is sticking to the decision, and will let the protest process run its course. It’ll be good to see what an unbiased body – GAO – has to say about the Air Force’s processes and reasoning in this case.

While the protests are pending, no work will flow through the contract. It has stumbled along for years now, and with some many other vehicles to pick from, it’s probably time to pull the plug, but it is doubtful the Air Force would do that.

As a reminder, the protesting companies are:

  • Harris IT Services
  • Sterling Computers Corp.
  • Insight Public Sector
  • Presidio Networked Solutions
  • Force 3 Inc.
  • PCMG
  • Dell Federal Systems
  • FCN Inc.

The winners are:

  • Ace Technology Partners LLC, Arlington Heights, Ill.
  • Blue Tech, Inc., San Diego
  • CDW Government LLC, Vernon Hills, Ill.
  • CounterTrade Products Inc., Arvada, Colo.
  • FedStore Corp., Rockville, Md.
  • General Dynamics Corp., Falls Church, Va.
  • Global Technology Resources Inc., Denver
  • immix Technology Inc., McLean, Va.
  • Intelligent Decisions Inc., Ashburn, Va.
  • Integration Technologies Group, Falls Church, Va.
  • Iron Bow Technologies LLC, Chantilly, Va.
  • M2 Technology, San Antonio
  • MicroTech, Vienna, Va.
  • Red River Computer Co., Claremont, N.H.
  • Unicom Government Inc., Herndon, Va. (formerly GTSI)
  • World Wide Technology, Inc., Maryland Heights, Mo. 

Posted on Sep 19, 2013 at 9:50 AM2 comments

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