The Boeing Company disclosed on November 6 that it will join with team-mate Lockheed Martin in protesting the Air Force’s award of the Long Range Strike Bomber to Northrop Grumman. The companies believe that the government deviated from the process set forth in its solicitation by failing to give credit for innovations aimed at “breaking the cost curve;” failing to assess the full range of costs associated with developing and producing the bomber; and failing to adequately evaluate the risks inherent in the proposals. In addition to concluding that Northrop Grumman is incapable of executing the bomber program to the timeline the government requires, the complainants say the Air Force greatly inflated the cost of the program’s early stages, and effectively transferred all the financial risks of development from contractors to the government. That is the precise opposite of the way acquisition reform is supposed to work. So it looks like there will be a political protest to Congress unfolding in parallel with the more formal protest to the Government Accountability Office. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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