What is it that Steinbeck wrote about the best-laid plans of mice and men? That they don't long survive the meddling of the U.S. government?

Whatever the precise quote, I must reluctantly agree with the general sentiment. Last week I made a real effort to break away from the ongoing soap opera starring L-3 Communications (NYSE:LLL), DynCorp (NYSE:DCP), the U.S. Army, and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) over an Iraqi translation contract that L-3 had possessed, subsequently lost to DynCorp, disputed, and is still working. I wanted to talk about L-3's Q2 earnings report in general, and its foresighted move to expand its operations in the unmanned aerial vehicle market that currently belongs to larger rivals Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) and Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC).

So much for that idea
But I'm afraid events have overtaken my intentions. The news since earnings broke (if anyone's still interested, sales were up 10% and profits nearly quadrupled) has since eclipsed last week's events. Dominating the headlines today: three recent contract awards from the U.S. government which may hold even more promise for L-3's future than did the news that management raised guidance last week.

Lost in translation
First, on Monday, archrival DynCorp announced in its own earnings release (sales up 2%, and $0.22 per share in profits, since you ask) that the GAO has upheld L-3's protest of the disputed translation contract. As a result, DynCorp and L-3 may have to re-bid to see who will actually win the contract going forward. If I understand the process, though, it's certain that L-3 will get to continue fulfilling the contract in the meantime, giving the company at least two more months' worth of revenue (and denying same to DynCorp.)

Superman lives
Next up was Tuesday's news that the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) had awarded three companies -- L-3, American Science & Engineering (NASDAQ:ASEI), and OSI Systems (NASDAQ:OSIS) -- a total of $2.3 million in contracts to lease their respective airline passenger-screening systems to the TSA for testing. A tiny contract initially, L-3's confirmation to be in the running for bigger and more lucrative contracts in the future has to be read as a good thing.

Super-size that contract
But the biggest news of this still-young week has to be the obscure mention by Reuters of a mammoth, $50 billion contract "to provide information technology services to federal agencies," which will be divvied up among "29 companies." Precisely what the contract is for, and who gets how much of it, has not yet been explained. But it sure sounds huge. So someone please tell me: Why is it, again, that L-3 is down 3% post-earnings? That news was so last week.

What did we expect out of L-3 last quarter, and what did we get? Find out in:

Fool contributor Rich Smith owns shares of American Science & Engineering, a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. The Fool's disclosure policy always has time to tell you about the rabbits.