Living in DC is in many ways a strange experience, that’s unlike any other in the U.S. Many people can say that about their locales. Certainly there’s nothing like the Manhattan experience. But DC is different in its own way.
When you ride the metro, the ads you see aren’t predominantly for consumer products. Most people riding the metro can’t afford to buy weapons systems, but you see ads for jet fighters anyway. The most expensive subway ads are in the Pentagon station and inside Capital South. They’re targeting very expensive ads to very narrow audiences: Defense Department procurement officers, and Congressional staff on just the right committee.
My all-time favorite was for defense contractors who wanted duplicate contracts to produce parts for the Joint Strike Fighter, arguing that even though Lockheed Martin was selected to build it, the project is so important that you want to fund other companies to work on it too. “Our nation’s security is too important to leave it to just one company…” these ads declared, and so the government should fund a new air refueling tanker and an alternate engine for the F-35.
Fortunately, despite the fact that the party on the other side of this equation is the government, you can protest and dispute government contract awards. In any of the situations above, the government likely violated competitive bidding standards. Here is a simple step-by-step process for protesting and disputing government contract awards
Since government bureaucrats can use their power to reward friends, to secure themselves future employment, or simply take kickbacks, there are a whole set of regulations constraining how government contracts should be awarded. Usually they have to go to the lowest bidder, but there are rules for selecting a higher cost bidder. Were those rules followed to the letter? Was the low cost bidder not getting a contract given the proper notice and chance to protest? Were affirmative action rules followed?
When it comes to Defense Department procurement, there are lots of processes that must be followed.
According to the Financial Times (paywall) Boeing is in a fight for its life over the single largest US government contract it could obtain this decade.
Boeing threw the future of the US long-range bomber programme into doubt on Friday when it announced an appeal against the “fundamentally flawed” decision to award the $80bn contract to a rival.
…The award of the contract to Northrop raised questions about the future of Boeing’s military aircraft division. Without the long-range bomber work, the division looks set to rely mainly on building military versions of its commercial airliners.
“Boeing and Lockheed Martin concluded the selection process for the Long Range Strike Bomber was fundamentally flawed,” said the companies in a joint statement.
“That flawed evaluation led to the selection of Northrop Grumman over the industry-leading team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, whose proposal offers the government and the warfighter the best possible [long-range strike bomber.”
One-third of Boeing revenues derive from its defense business. Sometimes these disputes are settled politically with the business being split up among the company originally awarded to do the work, and the protesting company, in order to just be able to move on with the project. The ability to dispute awards effectively is a key capability for making money on government contract work.