So Why Do They Call It the “Accountability” Office?

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Government bidders who lose a contract get the right to appeal to the Government Accountability Office, which regularly issues rulings that generally say the agency got it right and the losing bidder is basically asserting sour grapes. But that’s not what the GAO said Thursday about a $23 billion contract to maintain and secure the nation’s nuclear weapons.

Of course, sometimes it’s tough for taxpayers to figure out who’s right, given the information that’s routinely [redacted]blacked out, in other words – from the GAO’s decision.

But this one, involving “maintaining and securing the nation’s nuclear weapons” at the Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge, Tenn., and the Pantex Plant outside Amarillo, Tex., takes the yellowcake.

The GAO ruled that Nuclear Production Partners LLC (NPP), of Lynchburg, Virginia, and Integrated Nuclear Production Solutions LLC (INPS), of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, had a point concerning the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s contract award to Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC (CNS), of Reston, Virginia.

(Nuclear Production Partners? Integrated Nuclear Production Solutions? Consolidated Nuclear Security? Who the heck names these entities? The same guy?)

Ah….a helpful footnote may offer an explanation for the bland names:

Nuclear Production Partners

is a limited liability corporation (LLC) comprised of resources from: Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services Group, Inc.; URS Energy & Construction, Inc.; Northrop Grumman Technical Services, Inc.; and Honeywell International, Inc.

Integrated Nuclear Production Solutions

is an LLC comprised of resources from: Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. and Fluor Federal Services, Inc.

Consolidated Nuclear Security

is an LLC comprised of resources from: Bechtel National, Inc.; Lockheed Martin Services, Inc.; ATK Launch Systems, Inc.; and SOC, LLC.

The contract has a potential value of $22.8 billion, the GAO noted, with major savings to be realized by consolidating the nation’s nuclear-weapons efforts:

NPP proposed cost savings of approximately [redacted] billion flowing from the consolidation; CNS proposed cost savings of approximately $3.27 billion; and INPS proposed cost savings of approximately [redacted] billion. Thereafter, the agency’s cost savings advisory committee (CSAC) performed an evaluation and assessment as to the feasibility and size of each offeror’s cost savings initiatives.

That led to the chart above, whose data apparently led the losers to protest.

“We sustain the protests in part and deny them in part,” the GAO said. “We sustain the protests on the basis that the agency failed to evaluate proposed cost savings in a manner consistent with the solicitation’s stated evaluation factors. We do not find any other independent basis for sustaining the protests.”

Usually, that means it’s up to the government to decide whether or not to start over.