Local company’s protest of Air Force contract denied

4:06 p.m Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 Business
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The U.S. Government Accountability Office has denied a Beavercreek defense contractor’s protest of an Air Force $45.1 million award to a competitor, according to the federal agency.

Applied Research Solutions protested the award to the Oasis Systems of Lexington, Mass., in an agreement for work at Air Combat Command, headquartered at Langley Air Force Base, Va.

ARS did not plan to appeal the decision, company officials said Friday.

But while ARS lost out on one contract, it recently landed another in a $47 million, five-year deal with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center that will lead to hiring up to 60 additional employees to work in the Dayton area, Massachusetts and other locations across the country, according to Gary Wittlinger, an ARS managing partner.

Under the winning contract, the company will provide services to bolster the cyber resiliency of weapon systems, he said.

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Separately, in the bid protest, ARS offered professional engineering and advisory and assistance services for aircraft weapon systems, Wittlinger said. ARS partnered with two companies with local offices near Langley in the proposal, he said.

“This is the first protest that we have ever filed and we felt we had strong grounds” based on a lowest price, technically acceptable contract, Wittlinger said. “… We understood the decision from the government and we’re moving on with a lot of other opportunities.”

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Bryce Skinn, ARS contracts manager, said the company was disappointed with the GAO’s decision.

“Obviously, we don’t think the GAO reached the right decision, but this is how contracts work,” he said. “You can’t win them all.”

The GAO reviewed the protest that the Air Force had found the ARS bid appeared to be “unrealistically low to recruit, hire and retain” qualified full-time employees to work on the Air Combat Command project, according to the GAO decision.

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Company officials disagreed and provided information on its total compensation package, how its proposed labor rates compared with industry standards, showed a 95 percent employee retention rate, and “a revised proposal that increased some proposed labor rates,” the GAO decision said.

“ARS also provided six past performance references for contracts while the protestor showed that it or a teaming partner had provided the government with similar services at similar wages,” the GAO decision said.

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