Protest of Contract Award to NASA by City of Los Angeles

B-182149: Published: Mar 2, 1979. Publicly Released: Mar 2, 1979.

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An organizational conflict of interest appeared to arise when the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) as an instrumentality of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) competed with private enterprise for contracts awarded by a municipality utilizing Federal grant funds. GAO believes that it must be determined whether JPL can be viewed as having an organizational identity of its own, or whether NASA, the California Institute of Technology (CALTECH), or both of these institutions have a control responsibility over the activities of JPL. In this instance, work was to be performed by JPL pursuant to a separate contract between NASA and CALTECH. The facts show that NASA allows JPL to enter into agreements to perform work that is not directly required by NASA subject to the provision that NASA retain administrative control over the utilization of JPL's resources. GAO plans to initiate a survey to accumulate information concerning the propriety of contracting activity by JPL and by other centers operated by NASA.

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