The U.S. Government Accountability Office has rejected a protest by the Washington division of URS Corp., formerly Boise-based Washington Group International, against the selection of a Fluor Corp.-led team for a $4-billion U.S. Energy Dept. nuclear cleanup site contract in South Carolina. Fluor announced the decision April 25, but did not provide any information related to GAO's rationale.

Sharon Larkin, a senior GAO attorney, says the agency's decision in the case was not disclosed publicly because the parties involved have not yet agreed to release of "competitively sensitive" information compiled during the protest. The decision, currently under "protective order," could possibly be made public in one to two weeks, she says.

URS/Washington filed the protest in January following its unsuccessful rebid for the management and operations (M&O) contract at DOE's Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C. The firm, in its former state as Washington Group, had been site manager since 1989.

The Fluor team, known as Savannah River Nuclear Solutions LLC, was awarded the contract, initially worth an estimated $4 billion over the next five years. Five, one-year renewal options could boost the potential total contract value to $8 billion. Team members also include contracting veterans Northrop Grumman, Honeywell and Lockheed Martin. "We are glad to have these protests resolved and to be able to move forward. says John Hopkins, Fluor group executive. "Throughout this process we have remained confident in our team and in our proposal."

Fluor says that the site's 90 day transition, interrupted in January by the bid protest, will now begin this week. Its site team is headed by Chuck Munns, who is president and CEO of SRNS. He is a former U.S. Navy vice admiral, responsible for the U.S. Submarine Force worldwide.

"We are disappointed with the Government Accountability Office's announcement," says Keith Wood, spokesperson for the URS-led Savannah River team. "We are currently reviewing the decision." He notes, however, that thefirm is still competing for another multi-billion-dollar contract at the site, to manage its liquid nuclear waste, says Wood. That contract is set for DOE award in late summer, he says. Washington Group was acquired by San Francisco-based URS last November.