The European body tasked with selecting a consortium to run the Galileo satellite navigation project announced March 1 that it was unable to select a winning bidder to build its EUR 3.2B ($4.2B) Galileo satellite navigation system. It asked the Eurely and iNavSat consortia to resubmit bids for a final selection within three months. The GJU office in charge of the project noted that the two received bids were very close technically, and stated their belief that that extending the negotiations will lead to further improvements in offers. At the same time, private investors in the project are concerned that commercial considerations are taking a back seat to politics. The bidding consortia themselves expressed dismay, with one source noting that it could lead to cost increases and a delay in service provision.
The EU is hoping Galileo will provide an alternative to the Pentagon-controlled Global Positioning System (GPS), and also tap a growing worldwide demand for satellite communications that may be worth as much as EUR 300B by 2020. The EU also continues to recruit other countries to join the list of Galileo partners, as China’s recent EUR 200M commitment demonstrates. While Galileo is a commercial venture, and two-thirds of its cost is expected to be covered by private financing, some countries are concerned that partners like China intend to use the system for military purposes as well. Financial Times: EU puts off decision on bids for Galileo project
The Army Stryker Brigade now fighting in Iraq will be first in line to receive a new radio-frequency kit that allows soldiers to detonate mines from several kilometers away. The technology, called “Matrix,” was developed by the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal in NJ to meet growing base-security needs in Iraq. Matrix will deploy to Iraq under an urgent material release with a specific time limit. It is an interim, urgent response solution using old munitions like the M18 Claymore, until a new system known as Spider can be fielded around 2010. Tactics for using Matrix were developed by the Army Engineering School, and the U.S. Army’s Rapid Equipping Force acquisition agency will sponsor a demonstration. The devices will primarily be used for fixed-site security at forward operating bases. National Defense: Stryker Brigade in Iraq Will Protect Bases With Remote-Controlled Mines
Spurred on by the threat of base closings in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has hired the lobbying firm of Clark & Weinstock to help forestall cuts to the 62 military installations in his state. Other states and communities have taken even more proactive approaches since the last round of base closings in 1995. Base-closing experts estimate that millions of dollars are being spent for lobbying and guidance, and many are being hired far earlier in the process. Some communities have also worked to make their locations more appealing by ensuring room for future base expansions, improving area schools, providing municipal services and recruiting grassroots lobbies from people who do business with the base. While the lobbying is dramatic and likely to receive media attention, these proactive efforts may be more relevant over the long term. Associated Press: States Hoping To Save Military Bases.
The Naval Sea Systems Command, Indian Head Division at Indian Head, MD has issued a pair of emergency 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(2) orders for robotic Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) systems. iRobot of Burlington, MA won an $18.3M firm-fixed-price contract (N00174-05-C-0012) for its PackBot EOD and associated spare parts, based on two proposals solicited and two proposals received. Foster-Miller Inc. of Waltham, MA is being awarded a $5.2M firm-fixed-price contract (N00174-05-C-0011) for Talon IIIB robotic EODs and associated spare parts, also based on two proposals solicited and two proposals received. The military currently uses the Talon IIIB in Iraq and Afghanistan to find and disable improvised explosive devices. Both projects are expected to be completed in September 2005.
GovExec.com notes that the Defense Department is investigating a pool of former senior military and civilian Defense managers now working for government contractors for possible criminal violations of federal conflict-of-interest rules. The Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) is heading the investigation. They declined to say how many former officials were under investigation, but noted that most worked in the acquisition field.
DCIS launched its review, known as the Senior Official Project, eight months ago. It covers former civilian and military managers who negotiated and managed large contracts at the Pentagon after 2001 and then went to work in the defense industry. The project was a result of the admission by former Air Force acquisition official Darleen Druyun that she favored Boeing in contract negotiations in exchange for jobs for herself and family members. GovExec.com: Pentagon investigating former officials working for contractors. The Project On Government Oversight has more.
The F-16 fighter fleet is expected to be part of the U.S. arsenal for the next 20 years. As part of that plan, General Electric Co. of Cincinnati, OH negotiated a $57.8M firm fixed price, fixed quantity contract to redesign certain components, put some new component spares in the logistics pipeline, and otherwise support the life-extension and upgrade program for 95 of the fighters’ F100-GE-100/129 jet engines. Solicitation for this contract began September 2004, negotiations were completed February 2005 and the work will be complete by June 2006. The Headquarters Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker Air Force Base, OK issued this contract (FA8104-05-C-0053).
In the wake of some embarrassing scorecard ratings and expensive setbacks, the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs is implementing a new project management approach and a new enterprise project management office. Recruiting has already begun, and full implementation will occur during fiscal 2006. As a result of this effort, project requirements at one of the largest federal I.T. spenders will be more closely defined, system architecture will receive more attention, and a milestone process will enable managers to better compare progress against the original statement of work.