WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Justice asked a federal court to move quickly on its antitrust lawsuit against information technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and defense company EverWatch, citing concerns that delays would jeopardize the work of the National Security Agency.

The Justice Department this week asked the court in Maryland to expedite its case and consider a preliminary injunction it’s seeking on or before Aug. 5, court documents show.

U.S. attorneys argue a speedier clip is necessary to preserve competition on an NSA contract dubbed Optimal Decision, which deals with signals intelligence and simulation services. A request for proposals for the contract will be issued “imminently,” the DOJ said in its filing, and timely judicial intervention is needed to protect the process while preventing the proposed merger of Booz Allen and EverWatch.

The Justice Department on June 29 sued in an effort to block Booz Allen, one of the 10 largest U.S. defense contractors, from acquiring EverWatch. In its complaint, the government alleged the combination would imperil market competition, harm taxpayers and reduce services for the NSA.

A Booz Allen spokesperson on June 30 rejected the Justice Department’s characterizations and promised the company would “vigorously defend” itself “against any allegation of anticompetitive behavior.”

The federal government considers Booz Allen and EverWatch direct competitors, and the two, both headquartered in Virginia, are believed to be the only bidders on the Optimal Decision national security contract.

The NSA specializes in cryptology, signals intelligence and cybersecurity; its work is often clandestine. EverWatch on July 11 accused the Justice Department of revealing closely held business information in legal filings and requested the department be sanctioned.

Booz Allen announced its prospective purchase of EverWatch in March. The deal was expected to close in the first quarter of its fiscal 2023. Terms were not disclosed.

The companies on July 12 asked the federal court to reject an accelerated schedule. Despite being “prepared to move quickly,” speeding things up would be unreasonable and would deny them due process, they told the court.

“Although the government vaguely claims that the NSA will issue the RFP ‘imminently,’ it refuses to provide a date,” reads a July 12 filing. “And, considering that the government has been describing the RFP as ‘imminent’ for nearly three weeks now, that generic characterization has lost any potency.”

Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its NNSA — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.

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