GAO turns back first of two bid protests challenging Navy’s NGEN-R contract

The Government Accountability Office ruled against GDIT in its protest of the $7.7 billion award to Leidos. A separate protest, filed by Perspecta, is due to be...

The Navy is one step closer to getting to work on the latest iteration of the multibillion dollar contract that delivers IT services to sailors and Marines, after the Government Accountability Office denied one of two bid protests challenging the award.

In a decision Thursday, GAO procurement arbiters ruled against General Dynamics Information Technology, one of two companies that had challenged the largest portion of the Next Generation Enterprise Network recompetition (NGEN-R). The Navy awarded that piece of the contract — worth up to $7.7 billion — to Leidos in February.

GAO hasn’t yet released the text of its decision. But in a statement, the office said GDIT had challenged the procurement based on allegations that the Navy had made “assumptions” about pricing in the firm’s bid without consulting with company officials. If the Navy had done so, GDIT could have updated its proposal and won the competition, the company contended.

“GAO denied the protest concluding that the Navy’s conduct of negotiations was reasonable, and complied with applicable statutes and regulations,” Ralph White, GAO’s managing associate general counsel for procurement law said in a statement.

GDIT was one of two vendors to have challenged the larger section of the NGEN-R, known as Service Management, Integration and Transport (SMIT). Perspecta filed a separate challenge, and GAO is due to make a decision on that protest by next Wednesday.

The latter company is the incumbent on the current NGEN contract, and its corporate DNA in managing the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet traces back to NMCI’s inception 20 years ago. Perspecta was formed after HP spun off its enterprise services arm in 2017.

Meanwhile, the modern-day HP won the smaller portion of NGEN-R, for end-user hardware. That portion of the contract never faced a protest.

If Perspecta also loses its GAO protest, either that company or GDIT could continue to challenge the NGEN SMIT award at the Court of Federal Claims, but thus far, neither firm has signaled an intention to do so.

Once NGEN-R is past the protest stage, the Navy hopes to use it both to modernize its IT infrastructure and to absorb its remaining legacy networks, such as the ONE-Net network that still serves overseas users, into NMCI.

In addition to ONE-Net, the Navy still has around 140 smaller legacy and “excepted” networks that were never consolidated into NMCI – at least not yet.

“It’s become really unaffordable, and it’s also large security burden,” Capt. Ben McNeal, the program manager for Naval Enterprise Networks said in an interview with Federal News Network this spring. “We’ve been successful in the past in terms of absorbing legacy and excepted networks into NMCI, but we really want to take a leap as we move forward, much like we did on the afloat networks with the CANES program.”

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