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GAO Denies FLRAA Bid Protest by Sikorsky

DEFIANT X FLRAA contender [©Sikorsky-Boeing]

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has denied a bid protest filed by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation concerning the FLRAA award.

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Press Release, Washington DC, 06 April 2023: The following is a statement from Kenneth E. Patton, Managing Associate General Counsel for Procurement Law at GAO, regarding today’s decision resolving the bid protest filed by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, B-421359, B-421359.2, April 6, 2023.

On April 6, 2023, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied a protest filed by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation of Stratford, Connecticut. The protester challenged the award of the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) Weapon System Development contract to Bell Textron Inc., of Fort Worth, Texas, under request for proposals (RFP) No. W58RGZ-21-R-0084, issued by the Department of the Army, Army Contracting Command – Redstone Arsenal (Army). The FLRAA program seeks to produce new vertical lift aircraft to augment and ultimately replace the ageing H-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter fleet, with the goal of fielding the first aircraft by fiscal year 2030. The projected total contract value, including all options, is approximately $7.1 billion.

V-280 VALOR FLRAA contender [© Bell Textron]

Sikorsky challenged the agency’s assignment of a rating of unacceptable to its proposal under the engineering design and development evaluation factor, architecture sub-factor, which ultimately rendered the proposal ineligible for award. Sikorsky also argued that the agency should have found Bell’s proposal to be unacceptable. Finally, Sikorsky challenged the agency’s evaluation under the engineering design and development factor and the product supportability factor; the cost/price evaluation; and the best-value trade-off decision.

In denying the protest, GAO concluded that the Army reasonably evaluated Sikorsky’s proposal as technically unacceptable because Sikorsky failed to provide the level of architectural detail required by the RFP. GAO also denied Sikorsky’s various allegations about the acceptability of Bell’s proposal, including the assertion that the agency’s evaluation violated the terms of the solicitation or applicable procurement law or regulation. Finally, GAO dismissed Sikorsky’s additional arguments on the basis that Sikorsky was no longer an interested party to further challenge the procurement.

GAO’s decision expresses no view as to the merits of these proposals. Judgements about which offerer will most successfully meet the government’s needs are reserved for the procuring agencies, subject only to statutory and regulatory requirements. GAO’s bid protest process is handled by GAO’s Office of General Counsel and examines whether procuring agencies have complied with procurement laws and regulations.

Today’s decision was issued under a protective order because the decision may contain proprietary and source selection sensitive information. GAO has directed counsel for the parties to promptly identify information that cannot be publicly released so that GAO can expeditiously prepare and release a public version of the decision. When the public version of the decision is available, it will be posted to our website, ‘www.gao.gov.’

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