back to article Small software firm wins $28.4m after lobbing sueball at Lockheed Martin

Titchy software company Command Technology has managed to win $24.8m in a settlement from the mighty Lockheed Martin for unfair competition. In a David-and-Goliath story, Command sued Lockheed after being kept out of work making software for the 4,500 F-16 fighter jets that have been sold to US military and other countries. A …


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  1. btrower

    Excellent result.

    Will it stand? I was working with a small company in a competitive situation and although the product we had was hands-down better, the vendor had enough pull to get our presentation cancelled! They have subsequently come under investigation, etc, but it is small compensation.

    I hope this does stand, but my instinct is that it will not.

  2. Don Jefe

    Firstly, that's the way large US govt contracts play out. Command obviously hasn't made the HR investment necessary to put a stop to all the interference or have the work sent to them as subcontractors. Like it or not you've got to have some ex-military brass and political types on payroll, at least as consultants. That's the way it works.

    That being said, it's shit that it works that way. Having former insiders working with you used to be all about getting a little heads up on upcoming bid opportunities and how the agency watnted proposals positioned to meet their mandates. That's how its worked since WWII, and it wasn't especially crooked or shady. You weren't learning anything you wouldn't if you did the regular DC dinner, drinks, donation rounds, you just did it by proxy, through your consultant(s). It's all different now though, especially after 9/11, it's all shady as hell.

    I put most of the blame on the big push to 'shrink the size of the Federal government'. They just outsourced all the jobs, the government isn't smaller snd it's a lot more expensive. Anyway, individual agencies and military branches outsource almost every aspect of a project to one or two primary contractors and let them handle the distribution of subcontract jobs. It'll be somebody at DoD or GSA who signs off but it'll be signing off on whatever the primary contractor hands them.

    There is no core competency left in the government. Project drafts read like a 5 year olds wet dream: 'We need a plane that goes Mach 9,000, a range of at least eleventybillion miles, can destroy everything and is really quiet. Oh yeah, it has to fly and not kill the pilot every time. Here's a blank check, go build the new plane."

    The organization that will eventually be a primary cooks up something somewhat resembling the draft specs and already has its supply chain figured out before they even submit the proposal. If you aren't in on the initial proposal you aren't getting in. One or two primary contractors control quite nearly 100% of a project, the government just signs the checks, they don't even know what they've really commissioned. Just that it'll be 'superior' and that it'll provide (x) private sector jobs.

    It's all crooked as hell and chances are that Lockheed is correct, the judgement won't stand upon review. If Command manages to keep its doors open they'll get tossed a few bones in the future, but it'll be for crap like 'sanitization of flight suits following high-G maneuvers preceded by chicken vindaloo meals'. They'll also get lots of people knocking on their doors to assist them in streamlining future contracts.

  3. Number6

    Only a few lucky winners

    Reminds me of the tanker aircraft bid that was won by Airbus and then Boeing threw its teddies out of the pram and got it reversed. If you're not on the approved winners' list then you can have a contract taken away.

    Of course, Airbus got the last laugh in that case when it subsequently refused to even bid on the Air Force One replacement, meaning that the US government was stuck with a sole bidder and whatever price they chose to quote.

    1. Stratman

      Re: Only a few lucky winners

      So what are the chances of the next Airforce One being a flying deathtrap Dreamliner?

      I'm sure the Pres will want to fly the flag.

      1. Number6

        Re: Only a few lucky winners

        It'll be either a 747-400 or 747-800 airframe. The current ones are based on an older 747 airframe and are probably a bit noisy, not as fuel-efficient and more expensive to maintain. I guess the new extended 777 airframe might get a look-in too. The competition would probably have been the A380.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Only a few lucky winners

          747-8, not -800.

          And yes, the 747-8 Intercontinental is a good fit for the next AF1, although GE will have to resolve their icing issues for the jet engines used on the -8. The -8 and the 788 are both subject to an FAA advisory requiring them to avoid any thunderstorms over 60 miles in size.

          1. Gene Cash Silver badge

            Re: Only a few lucky winners

            Yup, but if you fly Rolls-Royce engines in those dash-eights as BA does, you're not subject to icing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Only a few lucky winners

      Well, that's not the entire story…

      The first bid was won by Boeing. Then someone alleged bribery and other inconsistencies. So the Air Force scrapped it, then restarted the tender. That's when Airbus + Grumman won it, and even suggested that the bodies would be modded in Alabama. The Air Force bought into that. Then Boeing squealed and threw a tantrum, and the Air Force scrapped it again, restarted the tender a second time, and Airbus gave them the two fingers (hallelujah). It was what Boeing wanted all along…

  4. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Oh. The old "We happen to have someone developing this already"

    Now that we've seen your version.

    I hope this holds up on appeal. It's pretty impressive they've got this far.

    Rather like MS and the Canadian XML company who built an add in for Word.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh. The old "We happen to have someone developing this already"

      Or the Americans with supersonic passenger flight

      Except that even after we'd given them the best of our research they still couldn't turn out anything like a Concorde.

  5. Old Handle

    This is why you should stick with opens source jet fighters.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      You first

      Go on then, design a state of the art airframe, or other component and release the plans under an open source licence.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You first

        > Go on then, design a state of the art airframe, or other component and release the plans under an open source licence.

        Musk got there first. :-)

  6. Graham Marsden

    It's not as if...

    ... Lockheed Martin has form for dodgy behaviour before...

    *cough* Starfighter *cough*

    1. Tom 260

      Re: It's not as if...

      Indeed, there was a saying at the time, if you wanted a Starfighter, all you had to do was buy a big enough plot of land, and one would crash there sooner or later.

  7. ted frater

    It happens here in the UK as well. Out of interest, when the National trust were coming up to their centenery, some yrs ago , I got in touch to quote to produce for them a range of products, based on my successful formula of production marketing and sales. Submitted detailed plans drawings and financial details.

    Heard nothing for a few months, till a letter arrived on Xmas eve of all times! to say they had made other plans.

    My subsequent enquiries showed they had cosied up with theRoyal mint at LLantrisant, and I had been PRECLUDED from the bidding process.

    When I saw the medal they had bought, it had the royal mint coat of arms on one side and writing on the other.

    It never sold and was a total disaster! They really didnt have a clue how to make something work design wise as well as financially..

    Just because they royal mint are bigger doesnt mean they are better.

    I dont mind losing a sale of a contract in fair competition, but to be precluded?

    to hell with them.

  8. Measurer

    Ooo Err...

    "tortiously interfered" - Illegal on the Galapagus Islands.

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