Federal officials declined to comment Wednesday on the next step in the process to award a consolidated contract to manage and operate the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge and Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Government Accountability Office announced in an eight-page decision that it had denied or dismissed three elements of a bid protest filed June 17 by Nuclear Production Partners LLC, or NP2, a team led by Babcock and Wilcox Co. But it wasn’t clear what would happen next.
“No comment,” Kate Black, a contractor for the National Nuclear Security Administration, said in a brief e-mail response to a question about the next step on Wednesday afternoon.
NP2 was one of the two teams that lost a competition earlier this year to manage the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plants in a contract that could be worth up to $22.8 billion. The transition to a new contractor had originally been scheduled to be complete by May 1 of this year, but bid protests have put the transition on hold.
It was the second protest filed by NP2, of Lynchburg, Va. On April 29, the GAO upheld one part of an earlier pair of protests filed by NP2 and Integrated Nuclear Production Solutions LLC of Oak Ridge. In that decision, the GAO raised questions about proposed savings and recommended that the procurement be re-opened and more information requested from the three bidding teams about their proposed cost savings. The GAO also recommended that the relative size of each team’s proposed cost savings be evaluated. The winning team, Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC, or CNS, had promised to save $3.27 billion during the next decade.
In May, the NNSA announced that it would request more information from the three teams.
The bid protests followed a January announcement by the NNSA that it had awarded the five-year extendable contract to CNS. In addition to managing and operating Y-12 and Pantex, the winning team is expected to manage construction of the Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 and could manage tritium operations at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C.
It wasn’t clear if Tuesday’s decision could be challenged in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., which hears a small percentage of the 2,500 protests filed with the GAO each year.
In a statement, the Babcock and Wilcox Co., or B&W, did not say that it planned to challenge the decision.
“With the agency maintaining that most of NP2’s protest is premature, we look forward to NNSA’s next steps in the process, knowing the strength of our proposal and team,” said George Dudich, president of Babcock and Wilcox Technical Services Group Inc. “In the meantime, we remain focused on operating Y-12 and Pantex safely and securely until a final decision on the contract is made.”
Babcock and Wilcox is the current lead managing and operating contractor at Y-12 and Pantex. Joining it on the NP2 team are URS, Northrop Grumman, and Honeywell.
Earlier this year, officials said the consolidated contract is the first for the NNSA, and it’s been in the works for several years. NNSA officials have said the consolidation could save money in part by eliminating redundancies in such areas as human resources, purchasing, finance, and information technology.
CNS includes Bechtel National Inc., Lockheed Martin Services Inc., ATK Launch Systems Inc., and SOC LLC.
The Integrated Nuclear Production Solutions team includes Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. and Fluor Federal Services Inc.
Note: This story was last updated at 8:50 p.m.