If you plan on being one of the contenders to supply the Army with a new carbine, you’d better have your bid in to Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey by 5:30 PM local time on 27 September, 2011. That gives us lots of time for the gun rags and internet commandos to wax philosophic about how poorly the solicitation was written and which wonder gun the Army should adopt.
The solicitation spells out the methodology to evaluate the proposals to narrow the field to three candidate weapons:
The Government intends to award up to three (3) Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) type contracts, each with a minimum guarantee of one (1) Weapon System Component Package. The Government will select for award(s) the proposal(s) which represent the Best Value to the Government.
The source selection process for award will consist of two (2) evaluation phases, ending with a contract award to up to three (3) contractors, followed by a final down-selection to a single contractor for a new carbine. Offerors have 90 days from the issue date of this RFP to submit Phase I proposal requirements. Evaluation Phase I will consist of the evaluation of the weapon attributes of the Offeror’s hardware, evaluation of the Offeror’s facility production capability, and review of the Offeror’s cost/price proposal in accordance with the evaluation criteria contained in the solicitation. At the conclusion of Evaluation Phase I, the IC candidates which represent the best value, as determined by the Source Selection Authority (SSA) will proceed into Phase II of the evaluation. Successful Offerors will be notified and given an additional 30 days to submit the remainder of the proposal requirements for Phase II evaluations. All other Offerors considered unsuccessful will be notified by the Procuring Contracting Officer (PCO) of their respective results and given an opportunity for a debriefing. All unsuccessful candidates from Evaluation Phase I will be eliminated from further consideration for award.
Evaluation Phase II will consist of specific hardware testing, as well as evaluation of the written technical proposal, management, cost/price, government purpose rights (GPR), fielding-operational and supportability impact and past performance, and small business participation volumes of the proposal in accordance with the evaluation criteria contained in the solicitation. At the completion of Evaluation Phase II, an award decision will occur that will result in the award of a firm-fixed price IDIQ contract for up to three (3) vendors entering the down-selection evaluation.
These three systems will further be down selected to a single weapon:
The weapon systems component package deliverables will be used for the final evaluation and final down-select to one (1) Awardee. The down-select evaluations will consist of a developmental test (DT), other DT test, the cost/price proposal, the GPR proposal and a limited user evaluation.
Furthermore, the solicitation considers an IC to consist of:
Each Individual Carbine shall include the following items:
– Carbine (Qty 1)
– Magazines (Quantity of magazines shall be sufficient to hold a minimum of 210 rounds)
– Cleaning Kit (Qty 1)
– Combat Sling (Qty 1)
– Additional Precision Match Grade Trigger Group (Qty 1)
– Blank Firing Adapter (Qty 1)
– Removable Back-up Sight (Qty 1)
– Operator Manual (Qty 1) (Section C.188.8.131.52)
– Optic 1x (If IC candidate is not compatible with M68 Close Combat Optic, provide equivalent 1x optic, 1 per carbine in
accordance with AR-PD-115: Sight, Reflex with Mount, M68)
– Optic 4x (If IC candidate is not compatible with M150 Rifle Combat Optic, provide equivalent 4x optic, 1 per carbine, in
accordance with Purchase Description, Telescope: XM150 Rifle Combat Optic (RCO) dated 17 August 2006)
Notice that the basic load remains 210 rounds. However, unlike SOCOM’s SCAR requirement, the Army has wisely not specified that the weapon must be compatible with the existing M16 30 round magazine. Therefore, they have specified that the offeror provide enough magazines per weapon to provide 210 loaded rounds. Could this telegraph the end of the 210 round basic load if a weapon with a new sized magazine is adopted? The 210 rounds is based as much on compatible convenience with the legacy magazine as anything else.
Interestingly, the solicitation only calls for the procurement of up to 178,890 units over seven years. That’s hardly enough guns to pure fleet the Army.
Classicly, the Army won’t release the real performance specs (as Jason pointed out) without a signed Non-Disclosure Agreement with the Government. Since there is ZERO reason for the Army to conceal the desired performance characteristics of their service rifle it means that someone is going to have to waste the taxpayers money to ask that it be released under the Freedom of Information Act. So much for the promised transparency in Government. This means there may well be a pause before the deluge of controversy begins on the interwebs.