A cybersecurity provider for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is urging reconsideration of a recent follow-on award to a rival company.

The transition from the $271 million contract held by information-technology specialist Criterion Systems, of Vienna, Va., was driven “by a perceived need to rapidly remediate a contract protest action lingering from 2016,” Criterion co-founder and CEO Promod Sharma wrote in a Nov. 21 letter to National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty.

The NNSA is the semiautonomous DoE agency responsible for maintaining nuclear weapons.

The letter does not name what Sharma called the “new, unproven contractor,” but Criterion subsequently identified it as Washington, D.C.-based enterprise solutions firm DKW Communications. The two companies previously contested the 2016 cybersecurity deal with the semiautonomous Department of Energy agency, with DKW protesting task orders awarded to Criterion to the Government Accountability Office.

“This potential contract transition is being driven by the NNSA procurement organization rather than the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) who is responsible for securing the entirety of NNSA’s infrastructure,” Sharma wrote in his letter.

An NNSA spokesperson said by email on Nov. 27 that Criterion had bid on the new contract but was eliminated from consideration for failing to provide “timely quotation revisions.” Both the Government Accountability Office and U.S. Court of Federal Claims rejected Criterion’s challenges against the agency decision, the spokesperson said.

The NNSA issued the new task order to DKW on Nov. 14. It features a one-year base and four single-year options, in total worth up to $182.6 million. The company’s cyber-operations responsibilities include “secure monitoring of NNSA system boundaries and other departmental environments and information assurance support for systems accreditations,” the NNSA spokesperson wrote.

Criterion was founded in 2005, four years after DKW, according to their respective websites.


This story first appeared in Defense Daily affiliate publication, Weapons Complex Morning Briefing.