GAO sides with AFRL in protest of spaceflight R&D contract

By Courtney Albon / March 13, 2020 at 2:25 PM

The Government Accountability Office has sided with the Air Force Research Laboratory in a protest over its award of a space innovation contract last November.

ATA Aerospace filed an initial protest last year after AFRL's space vehicles directorate awarded Millennium Engineering and Integration a task order under its Research and Development Integrated Space Experiments program. GAO sustained the protest in July, and the Air Force re-evaluated proposals, ultimately choosing MEI again. ATAA protested the second award in November, challenging the service's "cost realism" evaluation.

The company alleged that the service didn't properly evaluate MEI's cost proposal, which was less than half the cost of ATAA's $60 million bid. But according to a decision issued today, GAO found the review to be reasonable.

"The agency thoroughly reviewed MEI's technical approach, direct labor, and the types and quantities of labor hours and labor mix to determine whether the proposed costs were realistic," GAO wrote in its decision.

The RISE program supports research and development for innovative spaceflight experiments. Under the contract in question, MEI will provide research, engineering and technical management for space technology analysis and development.