The losing bidder on the $1.4 billion contract to manage the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education has filed a protest with a federal court. DOE last month awarded the contract to Oak Ridge Associated Universities, the incumbent.
The U.S. Court of Federal Claims confirmed that a protest was filed March 24 by the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education on behalf of the Desert Research Institute, which submitted a contract proposal for the Oak Ridge institute.
Claire Sinclair, a spokeswoman for DOE’s oversight office at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, also confirmed the protest but said she couldn’t discuss details. A spokesman for the Desert Research Institute did not respond to requests for comment.
“The protest was filed under seal,” Sinclair said in an email response. “Therefore, only those that have been granted permission by the Court may have access to the pertinent material.”
There was indication of how long the court process will take.
There are multiple options for appealing federal contract awards, including filing a protest with the Government Accountability Office.
When appeals are protested via GAO, the contract transition is typically put on hold. However, that’s not the case in this appeal.
Sinclair said the new contract began on April 1.
“Contract performance is ongoing because an injunction suspending performance was not issue,” the DOE spokeswoman said.
In a statement released by Oak Ridge Associated Universities, ORAU President Andy Page said, “ORAU put together an exceptional proposal for the management of the ORISE contract. We stand behind that proposal, and will continue to perform under the newly awarded contract until a final decision is reached by the Court of Federal Claims.”
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