GAO Rejects Protest of $1.2 Billion NASA Services Contract
WASHINGTON — Syncom Space Services is moving ahead on a $1.2 billion support services contract at NASA’s Stennis Space Center and Michoud Assembly Facility after the U.S. Government Accountability Office denied a protest from Jacobs Technology.
Jacobs, one of four finalists NASA considered for the Synergy-Achieving Consolidated Operations and Maintenance (SACOM) contract Syncom was awarded in July, challenged Syncom’s offering price, which at $1.2 billion was the lowest of all the finalists and about $100 million cheaper than Jacobs over the contract’s potential nine-year run.
The contract covers “facility operations and maintenance of institutional and technical facilities, and manufacturing and test support services” at Stennis in Mississippi and Michoud near New Orleans, according to a GAO decision dated Oct. 21 and published Nov. 9. The SACOM contract is potentially good for nine years and five months. The contract has a one-year base period, a two-year option, five one-year options, and one seventeen-month option.
Jacobs, in a protest filed in August, claimed Syncom’s price was not realistic, and that NASA did not scrutinize the offer closely enough.
GAO disagreed, writing that NASA’s “comprehensive evaluation record reasonably supports and adequately documents the cost/price evaluation.”
Also according to GAO, Jacobs complained that NASA unfairly downgraded the company’s proposal on technical merits for not including a thorough enough explanation of how it would convert a disused Stennis facility, building 9101, into a shipping and logistics hub.
Jacobs claimed building 9101 was in worse shape than suggested by NASA’s SACOM solicitation, which categorized the facility as “active.” According to GAO, building 9101 had been “unused for some time.” Jacobs, however, assumed the facility, which in lacks proper ventilation, fire suppression systems and shelf space, was more or less ready to be converted into a warehouse.
But GAO pointed out that the official government definition of “active” real estate could not reasonably lead Jacobs to believe building 9101 was ready for immediate conversion into a shipping hub.
Making matters worse for Jacobs, NASA itself pointed out that Jacobs Engineering Group, a Washington-based Jacobs Technology affiliate, had been providing construction services at building 9101 since 2012, and that the company was therefore well aware of the facility’s condition.
NASA solicited SACOM bids in March 2014 and received six proposals. An initial downselect took the field of competitors down to four, including Syncom, Jacobs and two others, the names of which GAO redacted from its published decision.
Syncom is a joint venture of aviation and construction services provider PAE, Arlington, Virginia, and BWX Technologies: a Lynchburg, Virginia, provider of technical, management and site operations services.