WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Protest troubles dog FBI radio modernization

The FBI continues to have troubles modernizing its land mobile radio system, but at least this time they are trying to conduct a competition to do it.

Last summer, the FBI tried to award a contract to Motorola for land mobile radios. It was a sole-source contract with the FBI arguing that they if they competed the contract and awarded it to someone other than Motorola it would prohibitively expensive.

Instead, they want to give Motorola a five-year, $500 million contract.

As you can imagine, that drew the ire of other companies in the radio business, namely EF Johnson Co., Harris, Global Technology Systems and RELM Wireless Corp. Each filed protests with the Government Accountability Office to block the award to Motorola.

It worked. The FBI canceled the contract to rethink their acquisition strategy.

Now, apparently the contract will be competed, but at least one company isn’t happy about what they are seeing in the solicitation.

Harris IT has filed a pre-award protest with GAO. This time, it is a 5-year, $200 million contract and is being competed under the Homeland Security Department’s Tactical Communications task order contract. Harris is a prime on that multiple award contract, as is EF Johnson, RELM Wireless and Motorola.

A pre-award protest does a couple things for Harris. Assuming that the FBI doesn’t pull the solicitation and correct it, Harris is putting a stake in the ground early about what it doesn’t like about the solicitation. This could be helpful for a later protest following the awarding of the contract and if it goes to another company.

GAO also could rule in Harris’ favor, which would pressure the FBI to make changes to the solicitation.

While the pre-award protest is pending, the FBI can continue to evaluate proposals, but it can’t make an award.

A decision on Harris’ protest is expected by Oct. 5.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jul 01, 2015 at 9:57 AM

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