NMCI gains momentum

At least one management head-ache is out of the way. Despite spending millions

of dollars on the Navy Marine Corps Intranet procurement, none of the three

losing bidders protested the Navy's Oct. 6 award to Electronic Data Systems

Corp.

The protest deadline passed late last month without a filing from IBM

Corp., Computer Sciences Corp. or General Dynamics Corp., said Jennifer

McGraw, a spokeswoman for the Navy Program Executive Office for Information

Technology, which manages NMCI.

There was no real motivation for the losing vendors to protest the award,

according to an industry official, who requested anonymity. They couldn't

beat EDS on price or on the benefits package EDS is offering civilian employees

who accept jobs with the company.

Employees will receive a signing bonus plus three years of guaranteed

employment, said Ron Turner, the Navy's deputy chief information officer

for infrastructure, systems and technology.

NMCI would have seemed prone to protest in part because of the high

bidding costs associated with it. But today, vendor protests rarely overturn

contract awards, procurement reform makes it easier for agencies to give

protest-proof awards from existing contracts, and agency officials have

become increasingly irritated at protests.

Over the past four years, the number of protests has gone down, since

the General Accounting Office took over from the General Services Administration's

Board of Contract Appeals as the ultimate arbiter. "Who are you going to

protest to — the GAO?" asked Robert Guerra, president of Robert J. Guerra

and Associates, Oakton, Va. "Protests don't go anywhere these days, and

they cost a lot of money."

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