The U.S. Government Accountability Office on Dec. 5 denied a protest of the Ground Combat Vehicle competition filed earlier this year by SAIC, with GAO saying the U.S. Army's decision to award two defense teams technology development contracts was fair and "reasonable."
SAIC officials previously said they felt the Army made "errors in the evaluation process" when the Army chose BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems, and not SAIC, to develop the service's next infantry fighting vehicle.
The Army surprised many when it chose to select only two defense teams when the service was authorized to award up to three contracts. Defense analysts said the Army chose two teams because of the pressure to shrink defense spending.
"We are disappointed to learn that the GAO did not sustain SAIC's protest, and as a result of that decision will not grant the requested relief to award a third GCV contract to SAIC's Team Full Spectrum," SAIC spokeswoman Melissa Koskovich said.
BAE Systems' team received $450 million and the General Dynamics Land Systems' team received $440 million to complete the technology development phase.
SAIC had said it felt the Army's decision was "unreasonable," but GAO disagreed.
"Our review of the record led us to conclude that the Army's evaluation decisions resulting in the award of only two contracts were reasonable, consistent with the stated evaluation criteria and did not improperly favor the successful offerors over SAIC," Ralph White, GAO's managing associate general counsel for procurement law, said in a statement.
SAIC led a team that included Chicago-based Boeing and Germany's Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall, which sought to use experience they gained working on the Army's now-canceled Future Combat Systems Manned Ground Vehicle program and Germany's Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicle. An SAIC spokeswoman said in August officials felt the Army chose not to appropriately integrate "existing, proven technology into a comprehensive solution."
Despite SAIC's protest, Army Secretary John McHugh said last month that the service will consider buying the Puma in place of the GCV.
"We can't do business as we've done in the past, just pull out the checkbook and write it because it's easy to do," McHugh said Nov. 2. "We have to make smart decisions - and if that smart decision is using an upgraded existing platform or … commercial off-the-shelf, or going to another country or ally and buying a program that they have developed and works well, then we'll do that."
The Army plans to spend $7.6 billion between 2012 and 2017 to field 1,800 vehicles to replace its Bradley fighting vehicle. Pentagon officials said the GCV program could grow up to $40 billion. Service leaders estimate each GCV will cost $13 million, a figure that includes spare parts.