GAO rules conflict of interest tainted $500M Navy jammer competition

An apparent conflict-of-interest on the part of L3Harris Technologies led the Government Accountability Office to recommend the Navy conduct an independent review of the requirements for its Next Generation Jammer.

An apparent conflict of interest on the part of the winning company led the Government Accountability Office to recommend the Navy conduct an independent review of the requirements contract for its Next Generation Jammer.

We earlier reported that the Navy was conducting a review of its decision to pick L3Harris over Northrop Grumman for the $500 million contract, but details did not become available until GAO released a public version of its decision Friday (today).

A second decision for the classified portion of the jammer project went against Northrop. That decision hasn’t been released and may not given its nature.

Northrop Grumman and L3Harris were in a fly-off of sorts to test concepts for the Next Generation Jammer, which will sit as a pod under the EA-18 Growler aircraft. The technology allows the craft to engage in electronic warfare.

The publicly-released GAO decision includes allegations Northrop raised about a Navy employee that developed specifications for the jammer at the same time he negotiated with L3Harris for a job there.

Northrop argued the Navy did nothing to mitigate this conflict, and that L3Harris should be disqualified and found ineligible for the award.

The Navy apparently admitted the person was negotiating for a job with L3Harris as he was developing specifications for the contract. But the Navy argued the situation had no impact on the decision to choose L3Harris.

The Navy said that person had a limited role developing the contract specifications and was interviewing for a job in a different L3Harris division, not the one bidding on the jammer.

But GAO disagreed and found that this person’s actions “created the appearance of an unfair competitive advantage in favor of L3Harris and that the agency’s consideration of the conflict was unreasonable,” the audit agency wrote in its ruling.

That person worked for the Navy from 2013 to 2019 as an electrical engineer and was familiar with both companies' designs for the jammer. He even attended working group and design status meetings with both contractors. He helped develop the evaluation criteria.

When offered the job with L3Harris’ space business, he went to the Navy’s ethics counsel and was told no post-government employment ethics opinion was needed. But another Navy employee talked to him about recusing himself.

After accepting the job, he was told to have no more contact with either team but did continue to work on the solicitation's specs. He left a few weeks later.

GAO's decision describes how deeply involved he was with the development of the solicitation and in evaluating prototypes both companies were working on in the fly-off portion of the competition.

Usually when GAO finds that this kind of conflict of interest, it recommends the contractor be eliminated from the competition. But GAO said it isn’t “feasible or desirable” to eliminate L3Harris in this case.

Instead, GAO recommends an independent review and then for discussions to reopen with the bidders. But if the review finds that the Navy’s requirements have changed, then the service needs to ask for revised proposals.

A simpler solution could be to just continue the fly-off. L3Harris was only tapped to build eight jammer pods as a step toward a full order more than 150.

Why not award a contract to Northrop and let them build eight, then evaluate them against each other?

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.