Air Force soon to release revised launch solicitation in response to GAO’s ruling

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An amendment to the National Security Space Launch Phase 2 Launch Service Procurement RFP is in 'final coordination'

LOS ANGELES — The Air Force will soon release a revised request for proposals for the procurement of national security launch services in response to concerns raised by the Government Accountability Office in a Nov. 18 ruling.

“We are going to take corrective action,” Col. Robert Bongiovi, director of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s launch enterprise, told SpaceNews Dec. 5.

“We appreciate GAO’s efforts,” said Bongiovi. “We’re trying to be transparent.”

The criteria for evaluating launch providers that submitted proposals for the National Security Space Launch program was one of a series of objections raised by Blue Origin in a pre-award protest. GAO did not challenge the Air Force’s overall procurement strategy but objected to the evaluation criteria laid out in the request for proposals.

An amendment to the request for proposals (RFP) is in the works, he said. “We’re still in final coordination,” said Bongiovi. Once the revised RFP is published, all four competitors will be given a chance to amend their bids. Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman, SpaceX and United Launch Alliance submitted proposals.

“The timeline and exact changes are still in final coordination,” Bongiovi added. “We’re going to address the GAO’s concerns.”

He insisted that the change in the evaluation criteria will not affect the overall program schedule. The Air Force plans to select two launch providers who will be awarded five-year contracts in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020. “We’re still on the same plan,” Bongiovi said.

The RFP the Air Force issued on May 3 said it would make two awards by picking two independently developed proposals that, “when combined,” offered the best value to the government. GAO objected to the “when combined” clause because federal procurement rules require that each bid be assessed independently.

An industry source said bidders anticipate a revised RFP will be released before the end of the year and they will be asked to submit their best and final offers by early 2020. The source said it is unlikely that the bidders will change their original bids as the GAO’s ruling only affects how the Air Force will assess the proposals.