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Boeing Drops GOES-R Protest

A GOES-R Satellite. Credit: NOAA Artist's Concept

PARIS — Boeing has withdrawn its protest to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) of NASA's decision to award the GOES-R meteorological satellite contract to Lockheed Martin just two months after filing the protest and alleging "serious flaws and a lack of transparency" in NASA's decision, Boeing said July 21.

Boeing's surprise decision resulted in GAO's immediate dismissal of the protest. "As a result, on July 22 ... the suspension of the GOES-R contract was lifted and Lockheed Martin has resumed work," NASA spokesman Stephen E. Cole said July 22.

Boeing spokesman Joseph J. Tedino said July 22 that Boeing plans no further action on the GOES-R decision. "The withdrawal of the protest ends the entire matter for us," Tedino said in response to questions about whether Boeing would pursue its protest in a U.S. court.

In its July 21 statement, Boeing said its GAO protest has provided the company with information on NASA's decision-making process that it did not have when it made its latest protest to the GAO.

The decision to drop the GAO protest, Boeing said, "was taken after gaining additional insight into the re-evaluation through the GAO protest process. Boeing continues to believe that it provided a strong proposal to NASA/NOAA and is disappointed by the outcome of the competition. Boeing will continue to provide high-quality performance as it completes the GOES N, O, P series of satellites."

Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems of Seal Beach, Calif., is the contractor on the current-generation Geostationary-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) system. The GOES satellites are procured by NASA and operated by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Boeing's announcement represents a 180-degree turn from the company's previous position, which began with a late-2008 protest to GAO of NASA's original decision to award GOES-R to Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver. The contract is for two GOES-R satellites with options for two more. The contract's total value, assuming the options were exercised, was $1.09 billion.

NASA had cut short the original GAO review by agreeing to "re-evaluate" its decision. NASA subsequently initiated a series of unspecified "corrective actions" but reaffirmed the choice of Lockheed Martin, the U.S. space agency said in a May 7 statement.

On May 18, Boeing filed its second protest, saying NASA appeared to have rigged the competition to favor Lockheed Martin given that Boeing scored higher on key bid-evaluation criteria. Boeing on May 19 said NASA's decision includes "serious flaws" and that key documents relating to the NASA decision were destroyed.

Boeing legal counsel went as far as to suggest that "NASA may have elected to hide certain events that were not consistent with the story it wanted to tell GAO and Boeing," according to a written summary of the protest provided by Boeing.

Cole said NASA "has not agreed to any changes in its evaluation procedures in the wake of [Boeing's recent] protest." Tedino declined to specify what Boeing has learned in the two months since the GAO inquiry began that caused it to accept NASA's decision.

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