Nick's picks for June's top stories

The news last month was dominated by contract news, including wins, protests and LPTA. Editor Nick Wakeman looks at what the biggest stories of the last 30 days say about the government market.

The news the last month has been dominated by contract news, including wins, protests and the continuing issues around lowest price, technically acceptable contracting.

Our top traffic source on the website for the month was our annual Top 100 rankings, which is no big surprise. The Top 100 is based on contract awards, and is consistently the biggest draw of traffic to our website.

The rankings are a barometer for the market, especially when you dive below the raw numbers and look at the moves that the companies are making to maintain their market position. A company’s ranking may move just a few spots from year to year, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of changes going on beneath the surface.

Tracking those strategic shifts is one of the great values of the Top 100.

Navy awards $3.5B NGEN contract

On the next-to-last business day of June, the Navy picked incumbent Hewlett-Packard Co. to take on the Next Generation Enterprise Network, a five-year, $3.5 billion contract that replaces the Navy Marine Corps Intranet contract and will manage the Navy’s IT infrastructure.

Since NMCI was first awarded to EDS in 2000, the contract has generated an average of $1 billion a year in revenue.

HP bested a team led by Harris Corp. and Computer Sciences Corp. I’ve been tracking the Government Accountability Office website, but so far, no sign of protest. The prevailing wisdom is that a protest will be filed, but the prevailing wisdom could always be wrong.

Navy officials seemed very confident during the press briefing after the award to HP that they could withstand a protest.

Amazon versus IBM

And speaking of protests, Amazon and the CIA were rebuked by the GAO in a protest filed by IBM Corp. IBM took offense to a $600 million CIA award to Amazon Web Services for AWS to build a private cloud for the intelligence agency.

GAO agreed with IBM’s contention that the price evaluations where incorrect, and that the CIA waived a requirement for Amazon after the award was made.

The 60-day clock began ticking on June 1 for the CIA to make a decision on what kind of corrective action it will take. They could decide to do nothing, but we should know before the end of July.

The story is significant because it shows that Amazon is ready to compete with the traditional powerhouses in the market, and that government agencies, particularly sensitive ones, are taking them seriously.

LPTA: A curse or blessing?

Our regular columnist, Bob Lohfeld, definitely struck a nerve with readers with his piece on signs that agencies are having some second thoughts about using LPTA. It ranked as our third most popular story of the month, after the 2012 and 2013 Top 100s.

As much as I agree with his premise that LPTA is limiting the decision-making ability of government evaluators, I think the popularity of the column has as much to do with how much of an impact LPTA has had contractors.

Love it or hate it, LPTA has been a game changer in the government market, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

Contract awards pick up their pace

Each month we do a countdown of the top 10 contract awards of the month, and to put it together, we track all of the awards we cover.

There’s been a remarkable upward train since the beginning of the year. Our countdown provides living proof of the freeze and thaw the market has gone through.

Think back to January and February when we had no budget and sequestration was looming. No one knew what was going to happen and the atmosphere of uncertainty had paralyzed agency decision makers.

In February, we only covered 13 awards, but by March, the market was beginning to stabilize, and we saw 30 awards.

By April a budget had been approved for the year, albeit not much more than a continuing resolution. We saw 45 awards and the momentum was building.

May brought 52 awards, and June, 61.

What will July bring? We’ll have to see if the pace continues or if the looming budget fights and uncertainty over funding brings a return of paralysis to the market.

Or will we see a rush of awards in the last quarter as we traditionally see?

One thing is for certain, there is never a dull moment in this market.

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