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Science Democrats Track NASA Foreign Contract Reporting

Press Release From: Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Democratic Caucus
Posted: Tuesday, December 12, 2006

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(Washington, DC) The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has determined that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will not be able to issue its required annual report to Congress in January 2007 regarding their contracts and subcontracts performed overseas, as well as on NASA purchases from foreign entities. 

Reps. Jerry Costello (D-IL) and Mark Udall (D-CO) asked the GAO to look into the matter.  The annual reporting requirement was authored by Rep. Costello and incorporated in legislation passed by the 109th Congress to reauthorize NASA.   

NASA has played a vital role in the advancement of aerospace engineering jobs and development in the U.S.  Science Democrats believe that better information is needed to assess the extent of offshoring in these sectors. 

"As we feared, NASA is not able to sufficiently track its subcontracts so we cannot determine what work is being done overseas that might be done in the United States," said Rep. Costello.  "I am very concerned about the lack of data available regarding off-shoring and outsourcing.  Without reliable data, we cannot determine to what extent this is a problem or develop proper policy if necessary.  All we want is good information, and I am pleased that NASA is taking steps to be in full compliance.  The Science Committee will continue to make this a top priority."

NASA concurred with the GAO's conclusions and is working with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to improve its performance.  The agency is making progress and improvements to the federal database that it uses to track these contracts which should allow it to comply more fully next year. 

"The updated system for tracking contracts and subcontracts will be a valuable tool for the Committee to oversee the expenditure of public funds," added Rep. Udall, Ranking Member of the Science Committee's Space and Aeronautics. "Our economy is very integrated with the economies of other nations in the global trading system.  We need to better understand the implications of this increased integration for U.S. employment in the aerospace industry and on NASA's supplier base."     

Legislation passed this year - The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 - requires OMB to establish a database containing contract and subcontract data.  NASA currently uses the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation (FPDS-NG) to monitor its contracts, and will be assessing how upgrades to that system, and changes in conjunction with the new law, will allow it to fully meet its reporting requirements as soon as possible. 

The Science Committee will continue to examine the role of government contracting in maintaining a robust U.S. aerospace manufacturing and engineering sector in the 110th Congress. 

Access a copy of the GAO report here.

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