Army cancels new security contract with Sicherheit Nord
By MATT MILLHAM | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 25, 2014
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — After protests from rival contractors, the Army is taking another look at the multimillion-dollar contract for security at its posts in Germany.
The Army has terminated the five-year, $322 million contract it awarded in January to German security company Sicherheit Nord and plans to reopen competition for the contract rather than fight a potentially expensive and lengthy battle to preserve the initial award.
In the meantime, Pond Security, which has some 1,800 guards at Army posts in Germany, will continue to man the Army’s gates. The firm expects to begin negotiations for an estimated six-month bridge contract soon, said Chad Geier, Pond’s chief of staff.
“Then we have to see what happens with the big contract, because it’s still up in the air right now,” he said.
By reopening the competition, “the government is not starting the process over again,” according to the 409th Contracting Support Brigade.
Companies that originally bid for the contract will have the option to clarify aspects of their proposals and submit revisions. The 409th will make a new selection on the basis of those revisions and could again award the contract to Sicherheit Nord.
Sicherheit Nord declined to make any statements to Stars and Stripes about the contract.
U.S.-based Triple Canopy and Germany-based Pond each filed protests after the Army awarded its Germany-wide security contract to Sicherheit Nord in January. Both companies had bid for the contract and lost. Neither would elaborate on their protests, though the 409th characterized them as alleging “that the government should not have awarded the contract to Sicherheit Nord and should have awarded the contract to a different vendor.”
The government’s decision to terminate the contract and reopen the competition did not signal that there was any merit to the protests, according to the 409th, but it would better serve the procurement process “because it allows both the offerors involved in the procurement and the government to ensure that there is a common understanding of the requirement, the content of each proposal, and the evaluation methodology.”
Protests such as these are not uncommon, according to the contracting brigade. But they have complicated a transition that the Army had planned to have completed by the end of May. Pond, which has had the contract for years, was preparing to shed millions of dollars of equipment associated with the Army contract, which accounts for 80 percent of the company’s business. Sicherheit Nord, which was rushing to hire at least 1,200 guards to take over the job, has been told by the Army to “stop work” on its preparations for taking over the contract.
Geier said that Pond guards, who have been concerned over whether they’d be hired by Sicherheit Nord under the new contract, are secure where they are for now. Pond has no plans to cut employee wages under the bridge contract, which is expected to run for about six months.
“In fact, they’re getting raises through negotiations with the state tariff,” he said.