HP prevails in protest fight for $3.5B Navy NGEN contract

HP got quite the Halloween treat in its goody bag as the Government Accountability Office denied Harris' protest of its $3.5 billion Navy NGEN award.

Hewlett-Packard got something a little extra in its Halloween goody bag Thursday as the Government Accountability Office denied a protest from Harris Corp. over HP’s winning of the $3.5 billion Navy Next Generational Enterprise Network contract.

The contract is the follow-on to the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet contract and converts the massive network to a government-owned and operated system with 400,000 seats and 800,000 users.

HP was the incumbent on NMCI and has been running the network since 2000 when EDS Corp. won the contract. EDS was later acquired by HP.

To win NGEN, HP faced off against a team led by Harris and Computer Sciences Corp.

Both of those companies filed protests, but CSC withdrew its protest in August after reading the Navy’s response to its protest.

CSC declined to comment on why they withdrew their protest, but generally, when companies withdraw after reading the agency’s response to their protest, it is because they realize their prospects of prevailing are slim.

Harris also declined to comment on the protest.

GAO made its ruling on Thursday, but the details of the ruling were not available. A redacted version should be available by Friday, so we’ll have a more detailed story tomorrow.

HP proudly put out a statement that it was pleased with the results.

“The Navy has selected the right team for the challenges ahead, bringing to Sailors and Marines new and innovative thinking coupled with more than a decade of experience building and operating the network,” the company said via email.

HP’s team consists of AT&T, IBM, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. Click here for an analysis of HP's team.

NMCI has a colorful and troubled history. EDS quickly ran into problems with the contract. The costs the company had to carry to deliver what the Navy wanted nearly bankrupted EDS.

In fact, it weakened the company to the point where it was an easy takeover target for HP.

But as the contract turnaround occurred, it became what is called a “referenceable account.” In other words, HP would use NMCI as an example of the good work it does as it bid on other projects.

Once NMCI expired, HP continued to support the network through the Continuity of Service contract, which became quite lucrative, pulling in $1 billion a year for HP. That contract will run for about another year as the Navy transitions from NMCI to NGEN. Ironically, Harris is a teammate of HP's on NMCI and the Continuity of Service contract.

Costs under NGEN are expected to be much lower, and the five-year contract is expected to be worth about $3.5 billion. It also was competed as a lowest price, technically acceptable contract.

The contract has one base year and four one-year options, and gives the Navy the option of recompeting portions of it as it sees fit.

That kind of competitive pressure will likely keep HP on its toes, which is what the Navy wants.

The contract was awarded in late June, but the protests have held up the start of the contract. With GAO’s ruling, work can now begin.

“Together with the Navy, the team at HP is excited to move the throttle forward on NGEN and take this network into the future,” the company said in its statement.