Raytheon protests FAA sole-sourcing plan

Raytheon protests FAA sole-sourcing plan

BY PATIENCE WAIT | SPECIAL TO GCN

Raytheon Co. is crying foul over the Federal Aviation Administration's stated intent to award a sole-source contract to Lockheed Martin Corp. without first conducting an open competition.

The Lexington, Mass., company filed a protest in February with FAA after the agency said it planned to award the En Route Automation Modernization contract to Lockheed Martin. The 10-year contract is worth several hundred million dollars.

The FAA plan also has raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill, where Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has requested that FAA administrator Jane Garvey justify the decision.

FAA announced Feb. 6 that it intended to award the en route modernization contract to Lockheed Martin some time next year, but it left a small window open for competitors by allowing them to file a capabilities statement by March 21.

Only if the competitors could meet FAA's qualifications requirements would the agency consider putting the contract out for competitive bid, said Steven Zaidman, FAA's associate administrator for research and acquisitions. The project is to upgrade hardware and software used to control high-altitude airline traffic at the agency's 20 en route air traffic control centers.

Giving the contract to Lockheed Martin was justified, Zaidman said, because of the company's status as incumbent contractor on major elements of the en route system.

Raytheon notified FAA of its intent to submit its capabilities statement Feb. 22. The protest was lodged six days later.

Legal delays possible

McCain, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, sent a letter March 7 to Garvey asking for 'a clear and thorough explanation of the agency's rationale for not bidding out' the contract. He also questioned whether the agency followed its own acquisition management process, and whether it might face legal or administrative challenges over the decision that could delay completion of the project.

For the proposed contract, Lockheed Martin has so far named only one partner, Computer Sciences Corp.

Zaidman said he would make a recommendation about whether the contract would go to Lockheed Martin or be put out for competitive bid after he reviews the Raytheon statement of capabilities.

Garvey will review the recommendation and weigh in with her decision, which will then be reviewed and approved by the Air Traffic Control Subcommittee of the Aviation Management Advisory Committee, a Senate-appointed board of directors for the agency.

Zaidman said he did not know when the decision whether to go with Lockheed Martin or to move to a competitive bidding process would be made.

Patience Wait is a staff writer with Washington Technology, a Post Newsweek Tech Media Group publication.

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