12 March 2007 - Last week, Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP secured a major victory for Lockheed Martin Corp. in its bid protest action against the Air Force in connection with the Air Force's award of a contract for development and production of a new combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter.The contract was awarded to Boeing last November and is valued at $15 billion.

Mayer, Brown attorneys challenged the propriety of the award before the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), arguing that the evaluation criteria were not applied uniformly.The GAO agreed, saying that the Air Force's evaluation of the life-cycle cost for the replacement CSAR helicopter was inconsistent with the required approach set forth in the solicitation..The GAO overturned the award and recommended that the Air Force amend its solicitation and reopen the competitive bidding process, and reevaluate proposals.GAO also recommended the award of costs.

In its decision, the GAO sent a clear messagethat contracts must be awarded based on the RFP and that offerors must be given clear notice of the government's requirements and its evaluation process so that the competition is fair to all participants.Without a fair competition, the government cannot obtain the best value for the taxpayer.Here the government failed to account for billions in potential savings because of its flawed evaluation process.

Protests over multibillion dollar contracts are highly unusual and winningany protest is even more rare, with fewer than 30 percent decided in the protester's favor.The GAO ruling is not binding, however GAO must report any failure to follow its recommendations to Congress.As a result, agencies virtually always comply with the recommendation..The Mayer, Brown team was led by Marcia Madsen and included David Dowd, Michael Lackey, Luke Levasseur, William Olsen, Megan Wernke, David Robbins, and legal assistants Barbara Raffaele and Cassandra Rouhlac.