ILC Industries of Dover, filed a formal protest with the Government Accounting Office, regarding NASA’s rejection last month of its proposal for a new generation of space suits. The NASA announced it had selected another company, Oceaneering International of Houston, Texas, to build the new suits.


    ILC Industries of Dover, still stinging from NASA’s rejection last month of its proposal for a new generation of space suits, has filed a formal protest with the Government Accounting Office.

    The protest was submitted July 14 under the umbrella of Exploration Systems & Technology, a partnership between ILC and Hamilton Sundstrand of Windsor Locks, Conn.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration on June 12 announced it had selected another company, Oceaneering International of Houston, Texas, to build the new suits. ILC has produced every space suit used in the American space program since the mid-1960s, and currently builds gear for the space shuttle and International Space Station.

    Oceaneering was picked to design and construct pressure suits for the Constellation program, which will begin flying around 2015. Constellation features a partially reusable spacecraft, similar to that used in the Apollo program, targeted for future space station flights and eventual return missions to the moon.

    The contract is worth approximately $745 million.

    Douglas Durney, ILC’s director of marketing and new business development, said the company primarily wanted a better explanation as to why it did not get the contract.

    NASA officials gave ILC a briefing about the competition and its results shortly after the contract was announced, Durney said.

    “They gave some of the explanations during our meeting,” Durney said. “We feel this raised other significant questions about the entire evaluation process.”

    “The debriefing did not supply us additional information about how the decision was made,” he added. “That’s the reason we’re challenging the decision.”

    Michael Golden, a general council for the procurement law division at the GAO, said he could not provide the specifics of ILC’s appeal, but did give a general outline of events in the appeal process.

    “NASA has 30 days to respond to the allegations,” Golden said. “They are required by law to provide statements responding to the allegations and any relevant documents. We then give the awardee 10 days to file a response to that report.”

    After that a hearing is held and a decision made, he added.

    In general, the GAO could dismiss ILC’s appeal or if it finds there were problems with the awarding process, direct NASA to go back and fix those problems. That happens in approximately one of every five appeals filed, Golden said.

    NASA then could be directed to reconsider what company should be awarded the contract.

    “That doesn’t mean a different contractor would get the contract,” Golden cautioned. “It is very rare that the GAO would recommend redirecting an award.”

    Golden said a GAO finding should be made no later than Oct. 22.

Email Jeff Brown at jeff.brown@doverpost.com