Updated: Judge hears oral arguments in Rivada Mercury lawsuit protesting FirstNet procurement
Updated with statement from Rivada Mercury about potential timetable for a decision.
Attorneys provided oral arguments today in Rivada Mercury’s lawsuit protesting the bidding team’s exclusion from the final stage of the FirstNet procurement process, bringing the case one step closer to a much-anticipated decision from U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Elaine Kaplan.
Scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. EST today, oral arguments in the case were completed at about 1:45 p.m. EST, according to an official in court clerk’s office.
In a statement released this evening, Rivada Mercury indicated that its legal counsel believes a decision in the case could be announced within "the next couple of weeks."
"The Judge has studied the briefs from the parties and conducted oral argument today," according to the Rivada Mercury statement. "We expect the Judge will issue her opinion in the next couple of weeks, and we remain hopeful and optimistic that the Judge will reach a decision that allows Rivada Mercury to continue to compete for this important procurement."
No substantive details were available from the proceeding, which was sealed from the public—a common practice throughout this case, given the proprietary and sensitive nature of bidding documents being debated. A last-minute motion from a media outlet sought to open the oral arguments to the public, with the court closing the portions of the argument during which proprietary information would be discussed.
Kaplan denied the motion yesterday.
“Due to the nature of the case, the court does not believe that it would be practicable to segregate those portions of the argument containing proprietary information from the rest of the argument,” Kaplan wrote in her order denying the motion.
With the conclusion of the oral arguments, Kaplan has received all forms of input outlined in the original schedule for the case that was released in November. Although the judge could seek additional input from parties to the lawsuit, a decision in the case also is possible in the coming weeks, according to legal experts.
U.S. state and public-safety officials are keenly interested in the outcome of the case. The FirstNet procurement award is the action that would establish the timetable for myriad processes, including the nationwide FirstNet deployment and states’ decisions whether to pursue the “opt-out” alternative.
Last week, the the city of Boston and the Bay Area Regional Interoperable Communications System Authority (BayRICS) filed a joint brief, asking Kaplan to make a decision in the matter "as expeditiously as possible."
In the case, Rivada Mercury is protesting its elimination from the “competitive range” stage of the nationwide FirstNet procurement. AT&T’s bidding team is believed to be the only participant selected by the evaluation team to be in the “competitive range” of the FirstNet procurement, according to documents submitted by Rivada Mercury and AT&T.
FirstNet is being represented in the lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice. AT&T is an intervenor in the case, in support of the U.S. government.
Rivada Mercury argued in its original complaint that the circumstances in the case deserve extra scrutiny from the court, because AT&T is the only bidder remaining in the “competitive range” of the FirstNet procurement. Rivada Mercury also argued its belief that it could address the evaluation team’s concerns in an oral discussion of its proposal—something that only would happen within the “competitive range” stage of the procurement.