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Letter from Rep. Tom McClintock to GAO About Full and Open Competition for the SLS

Status Report From: U.S. House of Representatives
Posted: Tuesday, September 27, 2011

image September 22, 2011

Mr. Gene L. Dodaro
Comptroller General of the United States
U.S. Government Accountability Office
441 G. Street, NW
Washington, DC 20548

Dear Mr. Dodaro:

I write in regard to the contract and competition process for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Space Launch System.

I have serious concerns with NASA's attempt to avoid holding a full and open competition to acquire the SLS. Instead, NASA is considering modifying and/or extending existing contracts for retired or cancelled programs resulting in one or more "de facto sole source awards." Some of these contracts were originally awarded on a sole source basis.

I strongly believe that such a de facto sole source award would be a violation of the 1984 Competition in Contracting Act (CICA). GAO has stated: "Under the Competition in Contracting Act, 41 U.S.C. S 253(c)(1), a sole source award may be made only when there is a single responsible source that can satisfy the government's needs." I am aware of multiple potential contractors who have expressed intent to compete for any available SLS contracts, and who should have every opportunity to do so.

In light of the foregoing, I ask that the GAO to investigate and determine the following:

-- What criteria is NASA using to analyze and evaluate different options for acquiring SLS elements, and is it planning to modify any existing Shuttle or Constellation contracts for these elements, rather than making them subject to full and open competition?

-- How does NASA plan to quantify the difference in costs between (1) modifying existing contracts and (2) an open competition for SLS contracts?

-- Does extending or modifying existing contracts for the Space Shuttle and Constellation program to procure SLS elements result in a "de facto sole source award" that violates CICA?

-- Would full and open competition of SLS contracts save taxpayers money?

-- What would be the effects on the U.S. aerospace industry, NASA's long-term human spaceflight program, and the costs to the taxpayer if SLS contracts are not subject to open competition?

-- Given the concerns raised by the independent Booz Allen Hamilton Independent Cost Assessment, would an additional GAO Independent Cost Estimate be warranted?

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Tom McClintock

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