General Dynamics [GD] said Monday it has made no decisions and is reviewing its options as it now has fewer than 10 days to decide if it will continue its protest of the Army’s acquisition plan for the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) after Army Materiel Command (AMC) April 4 denied its protest.
The AMPV would replace the M113, a Vietnam era tracked vehicle that no longer fits the conditions the land service would face in the strategic environment. BAE Systems
is the original M113 equipment manufacturer. The new vehicle must be able to keep up with tanks in off-road, rough terrain in the heavy brigade combat team. The Army envisions eventually having some 2,900 of them, in a program estimated to have a $5 billion value.
“The ruling is disappointing, but not unexpected,” General Dynamics said in an April 7 statement. “The AMC general counsel did not make a decision on the merits of the filing, he said that the Army has the discretion to define solicitation requirements and cited case law supporting that position.
“Despite our efforts, the Army seems intent on pursuing an RFP that is a competition in name only,” the company said.
AMC said in a statement: “The protest was decided under the AMC’s Bid Protest Program Procedures, an alternate dispute resolution forum, where the AMC Command Counsel, Brian Toland, independently reviews protests to determine if an acquisition is being conducted in accordance with law and regulation.”
General Dynamics Land Systems argued that the solicitation gives an unfair advantage to competitor BAE Systems Inc. BAE “unduly restricted competition, and failed to provide adequate information and time for preparation of proposals,” the AMC statement said.
“Toland found in the Army’s favor, determining that the solicitation–undertaken by the Army Contracting Command office at Warren, Mich., for the Program Executive Office-Ground Combat Systems and the Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command–provided adequate information and time for contractors to develop proposals, and that the solicitation requirements did not unfairly favor any competitor,” AMC’s statement said.
General Dynamics has said it believes a split buy between its own Stryker wheeled vehicles and the BAE Systems Bradley would give the Army the best solution to the needed AMPV. This view was echoed in an April 3 letter from 10 members of congress to the top Defense Department acquisition official.
At the same time, General Dynamics said the Army said, “they are open to considering wheeled vehicles yet the mobility requirements established in the RFP effectively exclude all known wheeled vehicles in the size and weight class they are looking for. It is not enough to simply state that you are willing to consider wheeled vehicles, the requirements must be such that a wheeled vehicle can realistically compete.”
Additionally, in response to specific points, General Dynamics said the Army said it was open to any tracked vehicle solution, “yet they fail to recognize or acknowledge that anyone able to utilize the exchange vehicles or their component parts would have an insurmountable competitive advantage over offerors who could not utilize those vehicles or components.”
Another area of protest for General Dynamics was a lack of technical data. The Army said it provided all the technical data to allow all offerors to use the exchange vehicles or components, “which is simply not true,” the company said.
The government did release a “a significant amount of drawings,” but they “released little or no reliability or test data that would be necessary for any offeror to credibly respond to the technical data requested in the RFP,” the company said. “This is particularly concerning given that BAE has publicly stated that they have the data necessary to submit a compliant proposal utilizing the exchange vehicles, which means that they must have access to this data through means other than the data released as part of the RFP process.”
In an April 4 statement, BAE Systems said it was pleased the Army was moving ahead with the AMPV solicitation, “a key priority for the service and our soldiers…BAE Systems looks forward to submitting a competitive and compliant AMPV bid that will fulfill an immediate need for improved survivability, force protection, mobility, reliability, and mission equipment integration. We welcome the opportunity to compete on the merits of our offering against the Army’s requirements.”
BAE has said several times in the past the Army has discussed the program and requirements for more than two years and made changes to encourage “the broadest number of competitors.”
General Dynamics said it asked the Army “many times” to talk about company concerns. “When the Army did not respond to our repeated requests, we asked for a detailed response to the concerns we had raised in the Agency protest.”
As the process works, General Dynamics had 10 days to consider whether to protest to the General Accountability Office (GAO) for its decision some 100 days later. Beyond GAO, General Dynamics could potentially take its case to federal court.
Bids responding to the AMPV Request for Proposals are expected May 28.