Contract watch

A balk, a big win and bellwether spending

In past weeks, one $2 billion project derailed, a $1 billion project continued, and federal spending analysts are looking a bit prescient.

The biggest surprise came from New York state officials, who canceled a $2 billion, 20-year contract they signed with M/A-Com four years ago, claiming the company failed to deliver a statewide public safety communications network. State officials are seeking an immediate return of $50 million. M/A-Com maintains it has fulfilled the terms of the contract and is reportedly considering legal action against the state.

That troubled system is separate from New York City’s wireless public safety communications network. In 2006, the city awarded a $500 million, five-year contract to Northrop Grumman Corp. to add high-speed data and video features to the system.

The nonprofit Public Safety Spectrum Trust has asked the Obama administration to allocate $15 billion of the economic stimulus package to build such a network for the entire country. The Federal Communications Commission has designated the trust as the licensee of the broadband spectrum for a nationwide public safety network.

Big win
The big win of the month went to Boeing Co. The Air Force awarded $1.1 billion to Boeing Integrated Defense Systems to continue acquisition and materials management for the service’s premier cargo aircraft, the C-17 Globemaster III. The company has provided performance-based logistics for the C-17 for a decade, Boeing officials said. The company supports 182 C-17s for the Air Force and 14 for U.S. allies.

Boeing’s continued dominance in the C-17 Globemaster III program is buttressing the company’s standing in the securities market, according to Schaeffer’s Investment Research Inc. Although the company’s “security has dropped more than 52 percent since the start of 2008, investors are confident that the shares will soar in 2009,” Schaeffer’s analyst Jocelynn Drake wrote Dec. 31, 2008.

Boeing is already spreading the wealth. The company awarded a $4.6 million contract to BAE Systems Inc. for troop seats for the aircraft.

Bellwether spending
In January, the Army named a dozen companies to compete for biometric technologies and services task orders worth as much as $497 million under a five-year, multiple-award contract. The announcement supported analysts’ recent predictions about the Obama administration’s priorities.

Washington Technology reported last month on a budgetary analysis from research firm Stanford Group Co. that predicted that the Defense Department would spend close to $600 million on biometrics this year, while intelligence programs would bring the total to as much as $950 million.

“U.S. identity solutions projects should survive intact through the presidential transition, and the industry should continue to do well in the Obama administration,” Stanford analyst Jeremy Grant wrote.

Another strong trend is using simulation technology in training. In past weeks, four companies split $125.4 million in federal simulation and training awards. L-3 Communications Corp. got the biggest slice: $68.2 million from the Air Force to provide F-16 training simulators. But the Navy also tapped Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. to continue supporting the Navy’s threat-simulation activities under a contract worth as much as $43.8 million.

Other recent simulation technology winners are Dynamics Research Corp., which won an $11.5 million, five-year contract from the Homeland Security Department to develop Web-based training courseware and other services to meet the training and simulation needs of Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine; and Alion Science and Technology Corp., which won a $1.9 million award from the Air National Guard to help provide realistic, interactive training.

About the Author

Sami Lais is a special contributor to Washington Technology.

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