Maybe the third time will be the charm for the Air Force as it makes its another attempt to award its $6.9 billion NetCents 2 Products contract.
Twice before the Air Force has made awards and twice the service has pulled back on the procurement after being flooded with bid protests.
Now they have made awards to 16 companies, which is the most obvious difference between this attempt at contract awards versus the first and second attempt.
When the Air Force made its first awards in 2012, it named nine winners. For round two in April, eight companies were picked.
For round three, the Air Force considered 26 bidders, so there is definitely room for more protests, especially when you consider some of the companies who didn’t get picked for round three, most notably Dell Federal, Harris IT Services, Sterling Computers Corp., Insight Public Sector and Presidio Networked Solutions. All of those companies filed protests following round 2 when they also didn’t get picked.
For round three, the Air Force kept all of the round two winners and added eight more companies to the mix.
So, finally, you are probably wondering who did win.
The eight companies who won round two in April and are still on the contract are:
- Ace Technology Partners LLC, Arlington Heights, Ill.
- CDW Government LLC, Vernon Hills, Ill.
- CounterTrade Products Inc., Arvada, Colo.
- FedStore Corp., Rockville, Md.
- General Dynamics Corp., Falls Church, Va.
- Intelligent Decisions Inc., Ashburn, Va.
- Iron Bow Technologies LLC, Chantilly, Va.
- World Wide Technology, Inc., Maryland Heights, Mo.
The eight new contractors added on Monday:
- Blue Tech, Inc., San Diego
- Global Technology Resources Inc., Denver
- immix Technology Inc., McLean, Va.
- Integration Technologies Group, Falls Church, Va.
- M2 Technology, San Antonio
- MicroTech, Vienna, Va.
- Red River Computer Co., Claremont, N.H.
- Unicom Government Inc., Herndon, Va. (formerly GTSI)
After the second round of protests, the Air Force told the Government Accountability Office that it would reevaluate technical proposals for Trade Agreement Act compliance. The act regulates source countries for IT components. This is important cyber security and counterfeit part issues.
The Air Force also told GAO that it would amend the solicitation, hold limited discussions with bidders, issue another RFP and make new awards.
However, according to the Air Force announcement on Monday, the service said, “During the reevaluation of the technical proposals, it became apparent that it was not necessary to amend the solicitation, hold discussions or issue another request for final proposals.”
The eight new winners in round three received awards based on the last proposals they submitted before the awards back in April, the Air Force said.
As I said, I doubt this is a bullet proof solution with 10 losing bidders out there. They’ll be getting their debriefs in the next week or so and then they have 10 days for filing protests. We should know by mid-to-late September if there will be more trouble for the Air Force.
I’m sure a big question at the debriefs will be, “How was my Trade Agreement Act compliance faulty?”
This might be going out on a limb, but when I look at who didn’t get awards, I don’t think it has anything to do with the Trade Agreement Act. Could it be that they just picked the next eight companies with the lowest prices?
If that’s the case, the Air Force should say so. Because right now it comes across that the losing bidders were not compliant with the Trade Agreements Act, and I’m skeptical of that.
But if there are no protests, the Air Force said the six-year, $6.9 billion contract for commercial IT products and related services will be available for orders in October.
Posted on Aug 26, 2013 at 3:40 PM0 comments
The Financial Times has interesting piece about Linda Hudson, BAE Systems Inc. CEO, who announced her retirement earlier this week.
I was particularly drawn to its discussion about finding a successor in today’s market “now that the boom times are over.”
Look at what many of the largest government contractors have done in the market over the last few years – divestitures, layoffs, restructurings.
As topline growth has become harder to come by, the focus has decidedly been on the bottom line. Profits have stayed up as companies have put a laser focus on costs.
This isn’t a bad, necessarily. The industry got fat and happy during the boom years so adjustments need to be made as the market moves thorugh this cycle.
But a lot of people think that this isn’t just a cycle. There’s a real shift going on in the market. This isn’t just a bad couple years and then will get back to normal. Some segments may never grow again. The long term expectation is that growth will be slower and margins tighter.
That doesn't mean it isn't a good market to be in, but it will be different.
But different how? It seems we are still trying to figure out what normal is going to look like.
I’ve blogged a few times about companies needing new capabilities and having to help customers become more efficient. There are growth opportunities in things such as the cloud, analytics and data center consolidation, which theoretically bring more efficient operations.
If the market is going through a fundamental shift to a new normal then it stands to reason that the skills you need as a leader in today’s market are different.
So what are they?
- Business development skills to take market share from competitors?
- Strong financial background to crunch the numbers?
- An operational focus to make sure current business isn’t eroded?
- People skills and the ability to articulate the vision of the company so it can differentiate itself from competitors?
- More conservative or more aggressive?
Frankly, I don’t know, but I think it is worth a discussion. What are the critical skills a CEO needs today and how are they different?
It might just be that the skills are the same but their relative importance has changed. Again, I just don't know, but I want to find out.
Let me know what you think and where I should go from here.
Posted on Aug 23, 2013 at 10:45 AM1 comments
Following a protest this spring, Science Applications International Corp. has won a $1.76 billion NASA contract known as the Human Health and Performance Contract.
Under the contract, SAIC will support all human spaceflight programs at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. This includes the International Space Station, Orion, Advanced Exploration Systems, human research, commercial crew and cargo programs and the Space Technology Mission Directorate.
But besides the nice dollar amount over the next 10 years, the contract has been the subject of a bid protest battle that might not be over yet.
Just five months ago, Wyle was the winner and it was the biggest contract the company ever won. Wyle also was the incumbent on the contract, so this is important work for the company. They’ve been doing similar work for NASA under one contract or another since 1968.
But this contract is so important that I’ve heard a loss could translate into drastic changes at the company.
I’ve reached out to Wyle for comment, but I would expect another protest is in the works.
There is little not to like about this contract so it is understandable there would be an intense fight over it. But I also wonder if this might be an instance where we see the two competitors work out a deal where SAIC carves out some business for Wyle.
I’m sure NASA wouldn’t object and there is a broad range of work to be done and a 10-year window to do it.
The work includes managing clinical, biomedical, space food and environmental laboratories; behavioral sciences; human factors engineering; spacecraft environment monitoring and management, according to NASA. Other services include biomedical engineering; biomedical flight hardware requirements, design, fabrication, testing and operation; and payload and hardware integration with the International Space Station.
According to analyst report by Ed Caso of Wells Fargo Securities, Wyle hasn’t been debriefed yet. Once that happens, it’ll have 10 days to decide on a protest.
We’ll be watching.
Posted on Aug 23, 2013 at 6:26 AM0 comments