Y-12/Pantex: where’s it going, please?

wind farm location 1The plants are a thousand miles apart but the people who work there are asking the same kinds of questions, similar to the one in the headline above. The combined management contract for the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plants is pretty much where it’s been for a while, in a land called unresolved. It seems like it’ll stay right there for at least a few more months, but I won’t claim to be an expert — not on this, of all things, for goshsakes. The National Nuclear Security Administration has not been talking a lot, so that complicates things.

Sept. 25 may be a key date. That’s when the 100-day clock at the Government Accountability Office is supposed to run out on the second-stage protest that was filed back in June by B&W-led Nuclear Production Partners, one of the losing bidders on the contract (which was awarded in January to Bechtel-headed Consolidated Nuclear Security).

I’ve covered a few procurements in my time, but I don’t have that much experience in covering protests, at least not of the magnitude of this contract valued at about $22 billion. That’s a big contract.

The National Nuclear Security Administration was still dealing with the initial protests filed by NP2 and Integrated Nuclear Production Solutions LLC, a team of Jacobs Engineering and Fluor, when the second protest came from B&W-led NP2 over the NNSA’s revamped Request for Proposals to correct a flaw/weakness identified by the GAO in the first round of protests.

The second protest, which was filed on June 17, asked GAO to look at the fairness of the way the NNSA dealt with the whole initial question of evaluating the proposed savings on the government contract by the bidders, including the $3 billion-plus over 10 years promised by the winners — Bechtel/Lockheed Martin and Consolidated Nuclear Security.

There has been some confusion regarding how or when the NNSA may act to resolve the contract award, with some folks wondering if the deal might be sealed before the GAO issues a ruling on the second protest filed by NP2.

But NNSA spokesman Josh McConaha this week said no final award until the protest issues are settled.

“We can’t award anything until all protests have been resolved,” he said via email. “The 100 day timeline still applies for any protest.  However, we can continue work on the corrective action we have already announced, and are doing so.”

McConaha was referencing the NNSA’s request for additional information regarding the earlier submissions on more information to validate the proposed cost savings under the proposed contract.

All parties reportedly had a chance to submit additional info, including the award winner, CNS, which said it could save $3.27 billion in efficiencies and cuts over the decade of the contract.

Jason Bohne, a spokesman for Bechtel and CNS, indicated the company and bidding team are anxious to move forward on the contract but also welcomed the opportunity to provide additional information to valid the cost savings proposed in its initial bid.

Bohne said the company is not in any way backing from the proposed savings under the contract.

The initial Request for Proposal had a page limit on how much detail could be submitted on the savings plans, so the protest gave CNS a better chance to spell out all the underlying facts and data to validate the savings of $3.27 billion, he said.

The CNS team put in a lot of time in the original proposal and did due diligence on what numbers were achievable, Bohne said. Now, he said, they’ll be able to show the foundation.

“We’ve got quality numbers and compelling logic,” he said.

B&W was not immediately available for comment.

In mid-June, when the NP2 team filed its second protest, B&W Technical Services chief George Dudich said in a statement, “B&W and our NP2 team have expressed a number of ongoing concerns related to this procurement process. We are asking the Government Accountability Office to examine the fairness of the revised Request for Proposals andn to ensure the RFP meets all government contracting requirements and fully addresses the GAO’s original decision and recommendation . . . “

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.