WASHINGTON — The U.S. Government Accountability Office has rejected a protest by Boeing Intelligence Systems Group of Springfield, Virginia, of an approximately $160 million contract awarded to Harris Corp. to help develop one of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) top priorities.

NGA has been developing what it calls the “Map of the World,” an integrated collection of data, including geospatial data, from sources throughout the intelligence community. 

In May 2013, the intelligence agency said it intended to award three contracts for “regional geospatial intelligence content management” to cover the globe, the GAO said in an Oct. 16 announcement of its ruling on the protest. Boeing and Harris of Melbourne, Florida, bid on one region covered by U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Southern Command. 

Boeing’s approach used significantly more hours than Harris’, producing a solution later described by the NGA as “inefficient,” the GAO said. 

Boeing claimed the NGA did not hold adequate discussions on the project because it failed to tell the company of the fatal weakness in its proposal.

“The simple fact that Boeing and Harris proposed different technical approaches that involved varying levels of effort for particular tasks does not establish a disparate understanding of the solicitation’s requirements or an unequal competition,” the decision from Susan Poling, the GAO’s general counsel, said. “Rather, this fact appears to indicate simply that the offerors proposed different or innovative technical approaches, as envisioned by the solicitation. Therefore, we find this basis of protest to be without merit.”

Harris said Oct. 24 that it won an  NGA contract, potentially worth as much as $770 million over five years, to provide geospatial data services. Sleighton Meyer, a Harris spokesman, confirmed that it was the same contract that Boeing had protested.

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Mike Gruss is a senior staff writer for SpaceNews. He joined the publication in January 2013 to cover military space. Previously, he worked as a reporter and columnist for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. and The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind. He...