As Bloomberg reports, Silicon Valley company Palantir has won their case against the Army, re-opening the bidding for the second iteration of the Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGSA), what the Government Accountability Office (GAO) describes as a system “intended to combine all intelligence software/hardware capabilities within the Army into one program with the ability to access and be accessed by, not only Army intelligence and command components, but also the other members of the broader distributed common ground/surface system.” Palantir had lost a protest over the bid but sued, claiming that the requirements were too restrictive, and that the solicitation violated a rule that requires the Army to purchase commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions to the maximum extent possible.
According to the story:
The Army failed to adequately consider commercially available options for the system, effectively shutting out the Silicon Valley firm from bidding, a federal judge ruled on Monday. The judge barred the Army from awarding the contract and ordered it to restart the process of evaluating technology that already exists. The ruling puts Palantir USG back in the running.
Palantir has its own, commercially available data management system that’s used by a few members of the intelligence community, and was started with funding from the Central Intelligence Agency called Gotham. According to Palantir, Gotham is able to complete the same tasks as DCGSA (or the upcoming DCGSA-2), and at a lower cost to the government.
The case has drawn interest from around the public sector market, thanks in part to the fact that Palantir is helmed by controversial tech figure Peter Thiel. But as Bloomberg notes, the case also points to a larger divide between the Department of Defense and Silicon Valley. DoD has been doing its best to bridge the gap between the lean operations of tech startups and the decidedly not lean nature of the Pentagon, and Bloomberg notes that the Palantir case may be as much a problem of cultural divide as it is technical disagreement.