Vendor protests Air Force contract award

Air Force's request for proposals' set-aside requirement

A vendor protested the award of an $800 million Air Force contract in late March to SI International Inc. because it thinks SI International, based in Reston, Va., does not meet the procurement's small-business requirement.

Air Force Space Command said it chose SI International March 26 out of seven vendors for communications equipment and services in support of four military commands. One of the other companies filed a protest March 30, said Michael Kucharek, deputy chief of media at the command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

Air Force Space Command released the request for proposals Aug. 11, saying the contract award would go to a small business. The command said the winning company must meet the small-business size requirement when submitting its proposal Sept. 12, Kucharek said.

Air Force Space Command defines a small business as one that employs no more than 1,500 employees. SI International's Web site says the company employs more than 1,800 people, but it employed about 1,200 people when submitting the proposal, SI International spokesman Alan Hill said. The company acquired 800 employees when it bought MATCOM International Corp. in late January, Hill said.

"Protesting a contract this size is not a surprise," Hill said. "The protest is without merit. We expect it to be quickly resolved."

SI International's division in Colorado Springs, Colo., would provide services for engineering, furnishing and testing equipment and materiel. It would also provide operations and maintenance for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems for Air Force Space Command, U.S. Strategic and Northern Commands and North American Aerospace Defense Command.

The company has received $1.5 million as part of the deal so far and would complete the work by September 2007, said the Defense Department contracts' statement March 26.

The Air Force's 21st Space Wing solicited vendors in August. It completed negotiations in February, the statement said.

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