NASHUA — The Government Accountability Office has released new details of its decision to sustain a protest lodged by BAE Systems of Nashua concerning the Navy award of a contract to Raytheon for radar jamming technology worth $10 billion over the next two decades.
In a decision announced Dec. 18, the GAO ruled that the Navy failed to reasonably evaluate technical risk and ignored evidence of significant weakness in the Raytheon bid; improperly credited Raytheon with outdated experience while understating BAE Systems' experience; and conducted improper discussions with Raytheon after proposals were submitted.
The Nashua-based defense contractor, New Hampshire's largest manufacturing employer, also offered a better price.
"The BAE Systems' price was significantly lower than the awardee's," said BAE spokesman Paul Roberts.
The GAO, in its full report on the BAE appeal, recommended that the Navy review all the bids once more, following the proper procedure outlined in the request for proposals.
"If the Raytheon proposal is not found to represent the best value to the government in accordance with the RFP's evaluation factors, the agency should terminate the award to Raytheon and award a new contract to the offeror representing the best value to the government," according to the GAO report.
The GAO also recommended that BAE be reimbursed its costs of filing and pursuing the protest.
"We are confident that our technically mature solution will provide the Navy an affordable and effective way to meet the needs of our armed forces and the American taxpayers," said Roberts. "The Navy has already announced that it intends to act on the GAO's recommendations and re-evaluate the proposals. We look forward to continuing to work with the Navy to ensure a fair and open evaluation of our offering for this important program."
The Navy has notified Raytheon, BAE and Northrop Grumman — the three original bidders — that it intends to make a new sole-source award this month.
No new bidders can submit, and none of the original three can change proposals.
Defense industry consultant Loren B. Thompson of the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va., described the jammer program as "the single most important development effort likely to be funded in the electronic-attack mission area during this decade."
"A decision to reverse Raytheon's award (if it occurs) would be a tacit admission that the original source selection was flawed," he wrote in a Dec. 20 blog post. "The Next Generation Jammer program is potentially worth more than $10 billion to the winning team over the next two decades and will play a pivotal role in how the joint force wages tomorrow's wars."