NASA: Leaderless and Under Investigation

House Panel Raises Conflict of Interest Concern at NASA
Congressional Quarterly

The House Science Committee is taking aim at NASA over a recent contract award that its chairman says wasn’t scrutinized enough for possible conflicts of interest.

The contract in question, worth $1.2 billion over five years, is for managing and operating NASA’s system of space-to-ground receivers and transmitters that allow the agency to communicate with its spacecraft, including astronauts in orbit.

The contract was awarded to ITT Corp., which beat out Honeywell Technology Solutions, Inc., which had held the contract in various permutations for decades. NASA’s inspector general and the Science Committee are both investigating the matter.

A committee aide said the potential conflict of interest arises because ITT was already a space communications systems engineering contractor for NASA. The aide said systems engineers must be scrutinized carefully when bidding on management contracts because they are so close to the agency that the relationship could prejudice the application in their favor.

He added that the committee is examining whether NASA took proper steps to handle the potential conflict of interest before awarding the contract.

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