Bath Iron Works Files GAO Protest

Thursday, May 09, 2002
Bath Iron Works, a unit of General Dynamics, has filed a protest with the General Accounting Office (GAO) challenging the fairness of the Navy’s DD(X) evaluation process. Bath Iron Works was the leader of the BLUE Team in that competition; the team included Lockheed Martin Corp., United Defense Industries, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, L-3 Corp. and others. “After careful review of the facts provided during the Navy’s debriefing, it is obvious to us that the selection process was not consistent with the established evaluation criteria, and thereby gave an unfair advantage to the GOLD Team,” said Allan Cameron, president of Bath Iron Works. Cameron further pointed out that the Navy’s Source Selection Advisory Committee improperly overturned the technical judgments of the Source Selection Evaluation Board, which is the authority on technical matters. Cameron cited three main issues:

Test-Bed Hull Advantage. The use of a Spruance-class DD 963 hull for at-sea testing of the radar was cited by the Navy as one reason the GOLD Team had “significant” strength in its Radar Engineering Development Model. Yet, on January 16, 2002, in response to the BLUE Team’s specific request to use a DD 963 hull for its engineering development models, the Naval Sea Systems Command formally said, “No.” In an email on that date, NAVSEA wrote: “The NAVSEA position is that we will not entertain a leasing or other agreement at this time to lease, loan, grant, sell, etc., a DD 963 Class ship in furtherance of the BLUE team effort …” Firewall Failure. Firewalled information was used as a discriminator in rating the GOLD Team radar solution. One of the GOLD Team members, Raytheon, had developed the SPY-3 radar under a separate and pre-existing contract. The Navy established a firewall to screen SPY-3 radar engineering development model data from both teams. However, the same Navy personnel were involved in reviews both inside and outside the firewall and in evaluating the GOLD Team’s proposal. In fact, the Navy has conceded: “Source selection technical evaluators’ knowledge of Phase II data concerning the radar suite integration approach, provided by the firewalled Raytheon personnel, provided confidence that the integration approach proposed by the GOLD Team was achievable…” This indicates that the Navy used “behind the firewall” information as a significant factor in its evaluation of the GOLD team proposal. By conducting an evaluation that effectively reached over the firewall, the Navy undid the protections that the BLUE Team had relied upon for two years. The firewall built by the Navy to prevent an unfair advantage to the GOLD Team failed its essential purpose.

Double-Counting. The RFP required that ship performance evaluation be separate from evaluation of engineering development models. But in its evaluation, the Navy counted ship performance features not only toward ship performance, but also toward the grade given for engineering development models. This double-counting was pivotal in the award to the GOLD Team. “We are very concerned about the fundamental fairness of the award decision in the light of a clearly flawed process,” said Cameron.

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