Lockheed misled on contract

GAO's decision

The General Accounting Office has agreed with Lockheed Martin Systems Integration - Owego that it was unfairly denied a chance to compete for a contract to upgrade avionics software for military helicopters.

The decision was handed down in late May and made public July 9.

The controversy stems from a decision to award a sole-source contract to Rockwell Collins Inc. The contract called for modernizing the cockpit management system, a combination of software and hardware that serves all systems on board a fleet of helicopters owned by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), a unit of Special Operations Command, which is the contracting agency.

The fleet of helicopters includes the MH-47D and the MH-47E, which are variants of the Army's Chinook heavy cargo helicopter; the MH-60L and MH-60K, variants of the Black Hawk; and the AH/MH-6, a small, maneuverable chopper.

Both Rockwell and Lockheed Martin currently build avionics packages for some of the aircraft and were competing for the Common Avionics Architecture, which would have modernized and standardized the avionics control package for the unit's fleet. But it also might lead to a contract for a common system for the entire Army fleet of Black Hawks and Chinooks.

According to GAO, the military program manager provided Lockheed Martin with inaccurate information regarding the requirements for the program, which led the company to offer a more expensive and more time-consuming proposal than it otherwise would have. That proposal, in turn, led the Special Operations Command to determine that Lockheed could not compete for the work, and the program manager awarded a sole-source contract to Rockwell.

"We agree with Lockheed that it was misled as to the agency's requirements...and that this led it to abandon its first approach in favor of a higher-cost, longer-schedule second approach. As a result, the agency's sole-source determination was based on a flawed assessment of Lockheed's capabilities and, therefore, was unreasonable," said the GAO decision signed by Anthony Gamboa, the agency's general counsel.

Lockheed Martin has not yet been able to respond to FCW queries, and Nancy Glass, spokeswoman for Rockwell, declined comment because the military has appealed the decision.

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