WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is considering a "range" of options for fixing the Air Force's GPS III control station, including a potential recompetition of the contract, according to the department's top acquisition official.
Frank Kendall, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, told reporters Wednesday that the Operational Control Segment (OCX) program is "not executing where we'd like it to be. I have a deep dive on it on Friday and we'll talk to the Air Force about what we want to do after that."
"There is a range of things we could do. I don't want to say much more than that, but if you can imagine the range of things we'd do they are probably all under consideration at this point."
Asked specifically whether that means a new competition on the contract, Kendall would not rule it out, saying "that's a possibility."
The OCX contract was won in 2010 by Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems, but a series of challenges led to the program being rebaselined in 2014. However, the program has continued to struggle, with both Air Force officials and Sen. John McCain, the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, singling it out as an example of cost overruns.
Last week, outgoing Air Force acquisition head Bill LaPlante told reporters the OCX program was "going bad" but declined to go into details. While still being vague, Kendall said there were "a mix" of issues facing the program.
"One of them has been information assurance requirements," Kendall said. "There have been frankly some execution issues with the supplier."
However, a new competition to fully replace Raytheon may be unlikely due to how much work the company has completed.
"Some of the work is nearing completion, some of the capability is, so it wouldn't make any sense to walk away from that," Kendall said. "But the bulk of the work, there is an open question about how we're going to get from where we are to finishing up."
According to Matt Gilligan, vice president, Raytheon Navigation and Environmental Solutions, "The GPS OCX program is bringing revolutionary modernization capabilities to the GPS system, especially in the area of information assurance. Today, the program is on a strong foundation. A number of critical corrective actions that have been implemented since late 2013 have been completed and the OCX system maturity has increased significantly.
"As a result, this vitally important program is now well positioned for predictable performance and strong execution going forward. Raytheon firmly believes that GPS OCX is the best path forward to meet the country's needs for a completely capable and cyber-hardened ground control system and the nation's full modernization requirements without compromise."
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.