18 April 2007 | Paul Snell
The US Senate is demanding to know why NASA has failed to follow up on promises to review its procurement process.
Senator Chuck Grassley, a member of the senate's finance committee, has written to NASA's head administrator, Michael Griffin, to ask why the space agency has not investigated alleged violations in its tender process.
The allegations refer to a software license contract tendered in 2005 that caused two suppliers to complain to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), citing the procurement as "fundamentally flawed" and "conducted improperly".
NASA did admit to some "inconsistencies" and promised the GAO it would "take corrective action". Because the space agency had planned to run a new tender for the products, the GAO dismissed the supplier complaints.
A later review in 2006 by NASA's Office of Inspector General described the process as "questionable" and told NASA to suspend any procurement until a review into requirements had been carried out. It also told NASA to notify the GAO if it acted differently than the office had suggested.
Grassley said in the letter he was concerned that statements NASA made to the GAO that led to the complaints being dismissed were misleading, and that the agency was still trying to procure the software despite the suspension.
He said in a statement: "NASA needs to ensure that basic procurement principles are followed. NASA also needs to keep GAO informed to ensure that future responses to the GAO are taken credibly."
NASA has until 19 April to respond to the questions from the committee. NASA did not reply to supplymanagement.com's request for a comment.