Pentagon acquisition Chief Ashton Carter said he was concerned about legal protests against contract awards becoming routine and warned that contractors should not file them frivolously.
“I am, and the entire department is concerned about protests becoming common or routine,” Carter told reporters outside the Defense Department’s headquarters.
Carter, who was showcasing one of the new manoeuvrable trucks being sent to Afghanistan under an expedited procurement process, said the Pentagon took the protest process very seriously and tried to “do a good job” in awarding contracts.
“We expect it to be rare. We expect it not to be used frivolously,” Carter said, when asked if he was frustrated about the growing number of protests against Pentagon deals.
Britain’s BAE Systems Plc recently filed a third protest against a potential $3.5 billion medium-sized truck contract awarded to Oshkosh Corp by the US Army in August, telling reporters: “This is not a frivolous protest.”
BAE questioned whether Oshkosh could meet its commitments after beating BAE’s truck bid by 10 %. Oshkosh insists it won because its bid offered the Army the best value and says it is confident it can meet its obligations.
Carter did not address the specifics of the BAE protest, but praised Oshkosh’s “excellent performance” on a separate program to produce more agile Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) trucks for use in Afghanistan.
He said the company had delivered 691 of the MRAP All Terrain Vehicle (MRAP-ATV) trucks by the end of October and remained ahead of schedule on the program.
Carter said the program had been accomplished on a much faster schedule than many Pentagon programs, which often took a decade to get new weapons to US troops.
In this case, the first trucks were arriving in Afghanistan less than a year after military commanders first requested a modified version of the trucks, Marine Corps Brigadier General Michael Brogan told reporters.
Carter, asked why only 45 of the new trucks had actually arrived in Afghanistan, said the Pentagon was now flying them to Afghanistan to get them there faster.
He said the Pentagon was also trying to speed up training and outfit the trucks more quickly with government-furnished communications equipment. “We’re shipping them just as fast as we can,” he said.
Neither official gave a projection for how many of the trucks, which have a more rugged suspension for travel on mountainous terrain, would be in Afghanistan by year’s end.