Proper Protest?

By Marjorie Censer / November 18, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Following comments by Pentagon acquisition executive Ashton Carter earlier this month, BAE Systems representatives today argued strongly that the company's protest of the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles "rebuy" contract is not a frivolous one.

At a Nov. 2 event at the Pentagon, Carter warned that DOD takes protests seriously. "The entire department is concerned about protests becoming common or routine, and we take the protest process very seriously,” Carter said in response to a reporter's question. “We expect it to be rare, and we expect it not to be used frivolously.”

But during a conference call with reporters today, Dennis Morris, president of BAE's global tactical systems division, said the company does not believe its FMTV protest to the Government Accountability Office is frivolous.

"When it comes to protests, BAE Systems does not protest often," he said. "We are willing to admit that if we get beat in a competition, we got beat."

As an example, Morris added, the company lost to Oshkosh in the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle competition. "We did not protest that decision," he said.

Al Crews, BAE's vice president for legal and contracts and chief counsel for the company's global tactical systems division, noted that protests cannot be taken lightly. During the same call, he said BAE is spending its own funds -- "money that's coming directly from our bottom line" -- to pursue the issue.

"Protests are extremely expensive, they're time consuming and they divert a lot of resources regardless of whether we're successful in the protest or not," Crews added.