Lockheed protest upheld

GAO's decision

The General Accounting Office has upheld a protest filed by Lockheed Martin Systems Integration that it was unfairly denied a chance to compete for a contract to upgrade avionics software for military helicopters.

The controversy stems from the awarding of 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.

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. It also might lead to a contract for a common system for much of the Army's fleet.

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 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," said the GAO decision signed by Anthony Gamboa, the agency's general counsel, and released July 9.

Lockheed Martin is awaiting Special Operations Command's determination regarding future competition, and "anticipates that it would compete aggressively on any resulting competition," said Mike Drake, company spokesman. Rockwell spokeswoman Nancy Glass declined comment.

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