NASA flagged for not competing orders

Audit of Multiple-award Contracts at NASA

The Defense Department is not the only federal agency under fire for not properly putting task orders out for bid. An audit released this month by the NASA inspector general found that 51 of 104 contracts issued by the Johnson Space Center and Langley Research Center were sole-sourced orders. Although officials did not violate any laws, they did not follow regulatory requirements and instead used multiple-award contracts to direct business to specific vendors.

"The agency did not receive the benefits of competitive bids and may be paying more for goods and services than necessary," according to the report, which is dated Sept. 28 but was released Oct. 19.

The NASA IG recommends that NASA managers establish competition goals for multiple-award contracts and that officials at Langley and Johnson direct contracting officers to "fairly consider all contractors who submit bids for orders under multiple-award contracts."

In reponse to the IG report, NASA procurement officials said that although they agree with the recommendations, the orders cited in the report represent an "effort that was begun, but not completed, on prior contracts." To put those orders out for bid would have "potentially amounted to meaningless competitions, since the initial contractor would have had an unfair competitive advantage due to their prior work."

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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