October 7, 2015 / 1:26 AM / 4 years ago

U.S. GAO upholds Harris protest about FBI contract plan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Government Accountability Office on Tuesday upheld a protest by Harris Corp filed against the FBI’s plans to award a sole-source contract to rival Motorola Solutions Inc for two-way radios under a larger umbrella contract.

The congressional agency said the FBI violated federal regulations when it notified vendors that it planned to award two contracts worth $335 million to Motorola, shutting out four other companies that were authorized to supply equipment under a bigger contract with the Department of Homeland Security.

It was the FBI’s second attempt to award a sole-source deal to Motorola. The FBI canceled the first deal in August 2014 after protests were filed by Harris and the other companies involved, arguing that they should all be allowed to compete for the work.

Kenneth Patton, GAO managing associate general counsel, said the agency ruled against the FBI’s latest attempt to award sole-source contracts to Motorola, because the larger DHS umbrella contract, known as an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract, allowed all bidders to compete.

“The FBI attempted to create a process that we didn’t see as meeting the terms of the underlying regulations,” he said.

Harris spokesman Jim Burke welcomed the decision.

“Harris Corporation is primarily interested in fairness and a level playing field on which to compete with our solutions. We appreciate the detailed consideration by the GAO and its ruling in favor of our protest,” he said.

Motorola spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said the GAO ruling focused on highly technical legal complexities within the federal government’s procurement process.

“The FBI has an existing unmet need for interoperable, mission-critical communications equipment necessary to carry out its mission, and we look forward to competing to meet that need after the agency determines a path forward,” he said in a statement.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Ken Wills

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