Top executives at several commercial satellite firms have banded together to push the Pentagon to do a better job of buying their services.

The letter, signed by Tip Osterthaler of McLean-based SES Government Solutions, Philip Harlow of Herndon-based XTAR and Kay Sears of Bethesda-based Intelsat General, among others, calls for the Defense Department to take a more analytical approach to comparing the costs of government-owned satellites with those operated by commercial providers.

Among its other recommendations are that the Pentagon figure out what level of commercial satellite communications infrastructure it needs and budget for it, and that the Defense Department use a single office to handle commercial and military satellite capabilities.

Osterthaler said the budget pressures should encourage officials to reconsider what they’re spending on government-owned satellites and whether they could save money with commercial versions.

“I think the timing is exactly right,” he said.

It’s not every day rival firms speak as one.

“We’re still very competitive,” Richard DalBello, vice president of legal and government affairs for Intelsat General, said during a group interview last week. “But we’ve seen the value in occasionally getting together.”

VT Group picks up Ryan from ManTech

Arlington-based contractor the VT Group has hired Terry M. Ryan, formerly the chief operating officer of Fairfax-based ManTech International’s emerging markets group, to serve as chief executive.

David J. Dacquino, VT Group’s chief executive, is retiring, according to a company announcement.

Ryan joined ManTech in 2009 as president of the company’s systems engineering and advanced technology group. He has also been an executive at Mercury Federal Systems, Science Applications International Corp. and SRA International.

OST protests Homeland Security award

The Government Accountability Office last month rejected a protest filed by District-based Optimal Solutions and Technologies against a Department of Homeland Security task order awarded to McLean-based Metters.

The solicitation for the order, which covered IT services, drew four responses, according to the GAO. While OST’s price of $12.4 million was nearly $5,000 cheaper than that of Metters, the contracting officer ruled that the superiority of Metters’ proposal outweighed OST’s price advantage.

OST argued that the DHS made errors in its evaluation of the company’s small-business participation and its technical capability, but the GAO was unswayed.

GAO rejects Next Tier Concepts’ protest

The GAO also denied a protest filed by Vienna-based Next Tier Concepts against an Agriculture Department award to Fairfax-based Emagine IT.

Next Tier argued that the agency unreasonably evaluated its proposal and that Emagine had an unfair advantage by hiring a former government employee.

The GAO rejected Next Tier’s arguments and noted that Next Tier also proposed a higher price than Emagine. “[T]here is simply no basis to conclude that Next Tier suffered any prejudice from the alleged evaluation errors,” the GAO report found.