Northrop Grumman and Textron's offerings for the JLTV competition were not ready for prime time and the joint Army-Marine team performed decently in managing the competition. That is the core of the JLTV protest decision that was finally released today, two weeks after we reported the basic results.
The protest decision -- denied on all counts -- found that the arguments offered by Northrop and Textron were "without merit." The two companies took the position that the award process was flawed because "BAE and GTV improperly received credit" for having built a demonstrator vehicle, since the agency did not consider whether the demonstrators were comparable to the offerors' proposed JLTV approaches.
This was all part of what built the score received for integrated system maturity, as you can see in the GAO decision. But the GAO found that "nothing in the solicitation required a showing that an offeror's demonstrator was identical to its ultimate proposed design in order to receive some credit in the maturity evaluation for the demonstrator." This just seems like common sense to me. If you build something that meets the RFP -- even if it isn't exactly what you will build for production, you would seem to have demonstrated you can do the job.
And the protesters didn't seem to even get close to the competitors in terms of risk. The GAO said: "In contrast, not only was NG's proposal rated overall only adequate with moderate risk under the ISM subfactor, but each of its... configurations was rated high risk for reliability and maintainability (as well as moderate risk for design). While NG's approach was based on three generations of mock-ups, NG had not built a demonstrator, and AMC determined that there was some doubt that NG would achieve the JLTV program requirements within 27 months. As for Textron, its proposal was rated marginal with high risk under the ISM subfactor, and only adequate with moderate risk under the overall technical factor..."
The biggest winner in the competition was clearly Lockheed, whose proposal "received the highest overall rating under the technical factor (the most important factor), based on a finding that LM's proposed approach and technology were the most mature, with the lowest risk of not achieving the program objectives within the allowed 27 months (including less than 15 months to furnish the required demonstrators)." Of course, we are not forgetting BAE or General Tactical Vehicles, the joint venture of General Dynamics and AM General, who also won technology development contracts, along with Lockheed.
I clambered into both the LM and BAE vehicles at AUSA. While Lockheed may have the best technical approach, I'd love to see them be inspired by BAE's attention to interior design, seat comfort and ease of use.