Mayer Brown’s Government Contracts group successfully represented Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC (CNS) in securing the award of a $22.8 billion contract by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in the face of three protests by a competitor. The contract is believed to be the largest ever awarded by the US Department of Energy and the NNSA.

In January 2013, CNS, an LLC comprised of Bechtel National Corporation, Lockheed Martin, ATK Launch Systems, and SOC LLC, was originally awarded the contract to consolidate the management and operation of two NNSA facilities, Y-12 security complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Pantex plant near Amarillo, Texas, with an option to include the Savannah River Tritium Operations. The work involves the management and operation of the facilities and includes maintaining and securing nuclear weapons. The focus of the contract is to consolidate the facilities and provide substantial operational cost savings to the government.

The award has been the subject of three protests before the Government Accountability Office (GAO) by Nuclear Production Partners LLC (NPP), an affiliate of Babcock & Wilcox, Inc.

The first protest, filed in January 2013, was partially sustained in April 2013 when the GAO found that the NNSA lacked sufficient information to assess the offerors’ cost savings claims and recommended that NNSA reopen the competition to obtain the necessary information and reevaluate the cost savings. NNSA followed the GAO’s recommendation, but NPP filed another protest prior to submission of revised proposals in June 2013 claiming that more extensive proposal revisions should be allowed. That protest was denied as premature.

The latest protest, filed on November 20, 2013, challenged every aspect of NNSA’s evaluation and award decision and many aspects of the CNS proposal. Following a three-day hearing, GAO rejected all of the protester’s arguments and stated in its February 27, 2014 ruling that “While NPP is clearly dissatisfied with the agency’s various judgments and comparative assessments, it has failed to demonstrate that they were, in any material way, unreasonable.”

The Washington DC-based Mayer Brown team was led by partner Marcia Madsen and included partners David Dowd and Cameron Hamrick, counsel Luke Levasseur, associate Michelle Litteken and staff attorney Polly Myers.