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GAO Protest Filed (Already) on Ground Combat Vehicle

As service representatives conduct source selection board activities for the Technology Development (TD) phase of the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) program, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has received an industry bid protest that could delay the award of TD contracts.

As described in the government request for proposals (RFP), the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program “is designed to develop the next generation Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) for the United States Army, making the program a key effort in Army modernization. The GCV IFV will have greater survivability, infantry carrying ability and lethality than current force vehicles.”

The TD phase, seen as “an iterative process to develop a balanced design and refine user requirements,” is designed to integrate the appropriate set of requirements into a full system design and demonstrate critical technology elements using test assets.

The Army announced the closure of the industry TD phase RFP submission process on May 21, 2010, marking the milestone as “the beginning of the  formal source selection process, which will culminate with up to three  competitive contract awards in late fourth quarter of Fiscal Year (FY) 2010.”

“The source selection process is used during competitive, negotiated contracting to select industry proposals that offer the best value to the Army,” the announcement added. “During the GCV source selection process the government will review the submitted proposals and adhere to federal regulations designed to ensure full-and-open competition among offerors. The process also prohibits the release of information related to the proposals, companies involved, dollar amounts, details concerning the source selection.   Upon completion of the Source Selection and the Milestone A review, contract awards will be made for the technology demonstration phase of the program. The Technology Development Phase involves risk reduction, refinement of requirements, competitive sub-system prototyping activities, and planned technical reviews leading to a Preliminary Design which demonstrates the maturity to enter into Engineering and  Manufacturing Development EMD phase.”

“We have had good response from industry and now the source selection process will begin immediately. Due to the sensitive nature of this procurement and the federal prohibition on the release of procurement information, the program office will not release further source selection details until the close of the process,” said Col. Bryan McVeigh, program manager GCV.

The program plans to award up to three (3) technology development phase contracts, marking a 27-month period in which to test and mature subcomponents and other material elements of the designs prior to a Milestone B decision in FY 2013. The subsequent EMD phase would run through the first quarter of FY 2016, and include delivery of the first prototype vehicle in FY 2015.

Several major industry teams have acknowledged proposal submissions now before the source selection board.

One team, led by General Dynamics, includes Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and MTU Detroit Diesel.

A second, calling itself “Team Full Spectrum,” is led by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), teamed with three large enterprises: Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW); Rheinmetall Defence (RMD); and the Boeing Company.

A third bidding team includes BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman.

A fourth proposal, submitted by Advanced Defense Vehicle Systems (ADVS) Corporation, resulted in the industry GAO protest.

As acknowledged in a company announcement dated June 24, 2010, “Advanced Defense Vehicle Systems (ADVS) filed a protest on June 18, 2010, concerning the Army’s solicitation of proposals for the Technology Development Phase of the acquisition of Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) under the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) Program.”

“The solicitation for the GCV-IFV stated that the Army intended to award up to three contracts for the Technology Development Phase for the GCV-IFV,” it stated. “The solicitation stated that the Army would consider program design, cost, past performance, and small business participation as evaluation factors for the award of contracts.”

It continued, “The Army also stated that it would consider as a supervening factor whether a proposal offered ‘technical diversity,’ meaning that the proposal offered a different technical approach than other proposals. ADVS, a small business concern located in Lake Orion, Michigan, submitted a proposal that offered proven technology developed by ADVS and its subcontractors that would provide the Army with an innovative, maneuverable vehicle offering an extraordinary level of crew protection. ADVS explained in its protest the reasons why the Army should proceed with the evaluation of proposals, including the proposal submitted by ADVS.”

The June 18 protest filing date opened a 100-day window for the GAO to release its findings (due Sept. 27, 2010). Although it is believed that the source selection board can continue its processes during this period, no awards can be made before the GAO results are released.

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...