WASHINGTON — The US Defense Department agency in charge of conducting the competition for the newest variant of the Army's Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System is hitting the rewind button and starting over following protests on its contract award to Leidos.

Leidos, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman were all in the running to be selected as the next maker of the system.

The competition for the joint and coalition command-and-control fire-support system will not open up to new competitors, but gives the four companies the opportunity to compete again.

Leidos won the contract Dec. 29, unseating Raytheon as the long-time incumbent. The deal sets up a three-year contract with a two-year option worth $98 million.

Raytheon first entered into an agreement with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 1981 to develop AFATDS and received its first contract in 1984. AFATDS was approved for fielding in 1996.

Raytheon was first to file a protest with the Government Accountability Office on Jan. 11, and General Dynamics Mission Systems followed suit with a protest on Jan. 17.

The Defense Information Systems Agency, which provides information technology combat support to the services, filed a Notice of Corrective Action and Request for Dismissal with the GAO on Jan. 25, but since the notice contained proprietary and source-selection information, it was subject to a protective order.

The GAO subsequently dismissed the protests late last week.

It was unclear whether DISA planned to reevaluate its contract decision or completely restart the competition.

According to the GAO’s decision — obtained by Defense News — the agency said it planned to amend the request for proposals to "more accurately describe" what the agency needs. Then the agency will send the amended RFP to the four companies in the competition asking for revised proposals based on the new document.

DISA will then evaluate the revised proposals, hold any necessary discussion with the companies and make a new contract award.

GAO’s decision indicates the agency may have discovered — or protesting companies may have claimed — a conflict of interest, as the decision states the agency plans to "further evaluate whether any offeror has an organizational conflict of interest and if so, whether it can be adequately mitigated."

DISA also plans to "ensure a level playing field" and disclose evaluated price tags for all four companies in the competition to everyone involved because the losing companies were shown Leidos’ total price during their debriefings, according to the decision.

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

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