Space Shuttle:

External Tank Procurement Does Not Comply With Competition in Contracting Act

NSIAD-89-62: Published: Dec 28, 1988. Publicly Released: Jan 3, 1989.

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Mark E. Gebicke
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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) competitive procurement plans for the development of space shuttle advanced solid rocket motors and external fuel tanks to determine whether NASA complied with the Competition in Contracting Act (CICA).

GAO found that NASA: (1) did not justify either its noncompetitive award for certain parts and materials needed in manufacturing the shuttle's external tanks or a proposed noncompetitive award for tank fabrication; (2) relied on a 1983 justification for the sole-source procurement, which did not meet CICA requirements; and (3) did not obtain approval of a justification for using noncompetitive procurement procedures, as CICA required. GAO believes that NASA could not properly justify its noncompetitive procurement of the required external tanks based on a 1983 justification without reconsidering the availability of competition.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: NASA disagreed with the GAO Office of General Counsel's opinion.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should direct the contracting officer to comply with the provisions of CICA. The contracting officer should seek full and open competition in awarding the tank fabrication contract. However, if the contracting officer determines that other than competitive procedures are warranted by current circumstances, he should prepare a justification, as required by CICA, and obtain the required approvals before awarding the contract.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration


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