NASA Solicitation: Space Exploration Technologies and Systems
"This is a notice of our intent to award a contract on a noncompetitve basis to the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) for the following services." ... "b) Systems Engineering and Analysis - Systems engineering activities essential to defining problems and requirements, assessing or devising technical approaches and concepts, and developing baselines (e.g., models, architectures, specifications) useful for continued development and/or integration. This includes performing bench marking and evaluation activities such as critical experiments, analyses, simulations, trade studies, and tests." ... "These services are not available elsewhere in a UARC or Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) environment in their entirety and, while not quantifiable, could not be duplicated without substantial investment of effort and other resources over a period of years."
Editor's note: According to a NASA source, this procurement is the result of H.Rpt. 108-792 - Making Appropriations for Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2005, and for Other Purposes which says "The conferees agree to provide $2,000,000 for establishment of a NASA program office at the Applied Physics Laboratory [APL] for the purpose of administering all existing contracts between NASA and APL, including those under the LWS Program. The APL program office will report directly to the Associate Administrator for Science."
No mention is made within this procurement notice of this Congressional direction as the real reason for this procurement, nor of the amount of funding involved. In addition, the tasks described in this procurement notice seem to be much more expansive than the simple two sentence description provided by Congress. Also, if this is simply meeting a congressional earmark, then why does NASA include all of the information needed for others to show their qualifications to do the job - so as to allow a decision to be made whether or not to compete this? If NASA intends to award this to JHU anyway, isn't this all just a charade?