L3Harris takes fight for $500M contract to court


L3Harris Technologies now wants a federal judge to hear its argument against NASA's choice of Ball Aerospace for the satellite technology award.

Unsatisfied with the results of its protest so far, L3Harris Technologies has filed a lawsuit in federal court to continue its argument that NASA picked the wrong company for a $500 million weather satellite technology contract.

Ball Aerospace won the contract in early September and L3Harris filed a protest soon afterward at the Government Accountability Office. L3Harris claims that NASA didn’t follow the solicitation and conducted a flawed best-value tradeoff evaluation.

L3Harris also alleges that NASA treated bidders differently, didn’t conduct a proper cost realism analysis and didn’t document the evaluation. L3Harris also claims NASA did not take into account an organizational conflict-of-interest, nor the impact of BAE Systems' agreement to acquire Ball Aerospace.

In December, GAO ruled against L3 Harris for several reasons. GAO didn’t find the solicitation to be ambiguous and found L3Harris’ interpretation of the solicitation to be flawed. That finding knocked out several of L3Harris’ arguments.

Regarding L3Harris’ complaint that the cost-realism findings were flawed, GAO ruled that NASA documented its evaluation and rationale for making upward adjustments to the cost proposals of both companies.

For the argument involving BAE's pending buy of Ball Aerospace, GAO said NASA documented how it evaluated the acquisition's impacts and found the transaction didn’t make a material impact on Ball Aerospace’s proposal.

GAO made its ruling in late December. L3Harris filed its complaint on Friday at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Right now L3Harris' complaint is sealed, but GAO's decision gives us a good picture of what the company will argue in court.

The contract in dispute is a 15-year award to support the GeoXO Sounder program, which will use hyperspectral infrared instruments on-board geostationary satellites. The instruments will make sounding observations of the western hemisphere to gather data on temperatures and water vapor, according to GovTribe data.

The data is then fed into prediction models for both the National Weather Service and Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.

The contract covers the instruments on the satellites, ground equipment and mission support.