Recently in Procurement Category

NASA JSC Unveils 'Valkyrie' DRC Robot, IEEE Spectrum

"While NASA's official position is that Valkyrie is a genderless humanoid (as is Robonaut), the robot does have some features that we would call unmistakably female. For example, there's the name of the robot. "Valkyrie" (the roboticists call it "Val" for short) refers to the female figures in Norse mythology who decided which warriors fought valiantly enough in battle to be taken to Valhalla when they died."

Keith's update: This placeholder website just appeared. But it only shows Valkyrie's back - not her front. There was a Facebook page up until yesterday that referred to Valkyrie as a female and said that Robonaut was her "brother". NASA JSC was originally directed by NASA HQ to make this robot gender neutral. JSC then ignored that direction and deliberately made the robot overtly female - at least its upper torso. Now they deny that it is female or that it was ever intendeded to evoke or portray a female characteristics in any way. This project was also kept secret from a large number of JSC engineers who would otherwise be aware of such activities. Someone is not being truthful.

Just for the record folks, I have no problem whatsoever in making robots and other NASA hardware more approachable to people in ways that make them feel included. None whatsoever. And if you are going to make a space robot why not make it look cool? Lets see more of it! What is troubling is how NASA JSC played favorites with one specific media outlet to the exclusion of all others - and still does; how NASA JSC is being less than honest when they say that there was no intent to imply gender identity on this robot when in fact multiple well-placed sources state that this was intentional from the onset at JSC; and that HQ PAO is now trying to tell me that a robot with an overtly female chest configuration and a female name is not trying to invoke a female identity. I'm not that stupid - neither is everyone else.

Why can't they just admit the obvious to the public in the same way that they discuss it internally? Its time for NASA JSC to be honest and stop trying to weasel out of the obvious by hiding behind HQ PAO responses. Ellen Ochoa knows the whole story.

Keith's note: I submitted the following questions to NASA PAO, JSC PAO, and Mike Gazarik - the reply from NASA HQ is listed below:

NASA Makes the Grade on the SBA Procurement Scorecard, NASA

"NASA has achieved an "A" on the fiscal year 2012 (FY12) Small Business Administration (SBA) Procurement Scorecard.

During the past six years, NASA's demonstrated commitment to the agency's small business program has raised the agency's overall grade from an "F" to an "A" after receiving a grade of "C" in FY09 and FY10 and a grade of "B" in FY11.

The annual SBA Procurement Scorecard measures how well federal agencies reach their established small business and socio-economic prime and subcontracting goals. It also measures how the agencies provide accurate and transparent contracting data and report on agency-specific progress.

Despite the overall spending decrease by the agency due to federal budget constraints in FY12, NASA awarded approximately $2.6 billion directly to small businesses. This was about $100 million more when compared to FY11, clearly demonstrating NASA's overall commitment of support to the nation's small businesses."

Final Report - IG-13-016 - NASA's Management of Commercial Orbital Transportation Services and ISS Commercial Resupply Contracts, NASA OIG

"The OIG review found that despite an almost 3-year delay in development, SpaceX completed its demonstration flights and two resupply missions to the ISS. Although each experienced some anomalies, none was serious enough to substantially impact the missions."

"Similar to SpaceX, Orbital has experienced delays in its development program and these delays in turn caused substantial delays to the planned flight schedule for the company's resupply missions to the Station. However, until recently NASA did not adjust its payment schedule to Orbital in light of these delays."

NASA JSC Solicitation: Human Health and Performance Organizational Conflicts of Interest

"NASA/JSC is requesting information from industry regarding potential organizational conflicts of interest (OCI) arising from the Human Health and Performance Contract (HHPC). The nature of the work anticipated under HHPC may create a situation, where there could be a potential for an OCI as currently described in FAR Subpart 9.5. "

NASA Space Technology Research Fellowships - Fall 2012 Fellowship Grant

"Point of Contact

Name: Claudia M Meyer
Title: NASA Space Technology Research Grants Program Exec
Phone: 000-000-0000
Fax: 000-000-0000
Email: hq-nstrf-call@mail.nasa.gov"

Keith's 4 Nov. note: Where is area code 000? You can "contact" Claudia Meyer at GRC (no mention of GRC in the NASA HQ procurement notice) at 216.977.7511 or at claudia.m.meyer@nasa.gov (via people.nasa.gov).

Keith's 8 Nov update: No one (including Claudia Meyer the "NASA Space Technology Research Grants Program Exec") seems to care that the principal contact for this official government solicitation refuses to post a valid telephone number such that taxpayers, students, etc. can contact her. "Open and transparent"? Not so much, I think.

NASA MSFC RFI: Electrodynamic Tether Propulsion Demonstration Mission

"NASA MSFC is seeking a partner capable of providing a spacecraft bus as a part of a technology development proposal team. Responses to this RFI will provide information necessary for the selection of spacecraft providing partners for the proposal team in late Summer/early Fall 2010. This RFI seeks input from vendors with experience and facilities for designing, fabricating, and integrating Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites. Vendors must be able to provide low risk, highly reliable design solutions and have a history of successfully delivering spacecraft bus systems to support Flight projects."

NASA JSC Solicitation Notice: Open Innovation Support Services

"NASA/Johnson Space Center (JSC) has a requirement for an Open Innovation Service Provider with an extensive external network that can be used to introduce collaboration opportunities to the public. Specifically, NASA JSC is looking for an offeror that supports a network of experts that can facilitate solutions to a vast array of issues and challenges facing the future of human health and performance in spaceflight. Challenges are of varied type and difficulty and could include technological, biological, or human modeling needs. The potential offeror will provide NASA JSC with the methodology and infrastructure to facilitate Open Innovation within the organization and for solutions to outsourced challenges or problems."

Keith's 20 Aug note: (Sigh) Typical NASAese. The JSC folks use a phrase "Open Innovation" - complete with uppercase letters as if it is the proper name of some sort of formal process or thing (like TQM, ISO 9000, etc.) - yet they never define what it is as they ask people to submit responses as to how they'd help JSC as an "Open Innovation Service Provider" and to do so "within the organization". Does "open" refer to "open" thinking within NASA - or does it refer to things being "open" to the public? And what constitutes "innovation"? Doing things differently (or better) than NASA currently does things? Doing things different (and better) than is done outside of NASA? And when all of that is cleared up, how much money is available to do this? Some times it costs more to be innovative.

Keith's update: JSC has made two contract awards: one to Innocentive, Inc. and the other to Yet2.com. Looking at their websites they do not seem to have any experience with NASA as a client. That is not necessarily a bad thing. As to whether JSC has something in specific in mind or is on an intellectual fishing expedition only time will tell. Again, as to what "open" means well, that is still unclear. Stay tuned.

NASA JSC Contract Award: Innovation Support Services - Innocentive Inc.
NASA JSC Contract Award: Innovation Support Services - Yet2.com Inc.

What Is Open Innovation?

NASA JSC Solicitation Notice: Open Innovation Support Services

"NASA/Johnson Space Center (JSC) has a requirement for an Open Innovation Service Provider with an extensive external network that can be used to introduce collaboration opportunities to the public. Specifically, NASA JSC is looking for an offeror that supports a network of experts that can facilitate solutions to a vast array of issues and challenges facing the future of human health and performance in spaceflight. Challenges are of varied type and difficulty and could include technological, biological, or human modeling needs. The potential offeror will provide NASA JSC with the methodology and infrastructure to facilitate Open Innovation within the organization and for solutions to outsourced challenges or problems."

Keith's note: (Sigh) Typical NASAese. The JSC folks use a phrase "Open Innovation" - complete with uppercase letters as if it is the proper name of some sort of formal process or thing (like TQM, ISO 9000, etc.) - yet they never define what it is as they ask people to submit responses as to how they'd help JSC as an "Open Innovation Service Provider" and to do so "within the organization". Does "open" refer to "open" thinking within NASA - or does it refer to things being "open" to the public? And what constitutes "innovation"? Doing things differently (or better) than NASA currently does things? Doing things different (and better) than is done outside of NASA? And when all of that is cleared up, how much money is available to do this? Some times it costs more to be innovative.

Keith's 30 June update: This RFI has been cancelled. Funny how these things happen, eh?

NASA JSC Solicitation: Request for Information on Human Rated Centrifuge Capabilities

"NASA/JSC is hereby soliciting information about potential sources for use of human rated centrifuges that can simulate the Orion spacecraft ascent and entry accelertation environment. Specific information solicited is: The accelerations levels that can be achieved and sustained. The change in acceleration levels (jerk) or the rate of acceleration onset that can be achieved. The ability to produce or accommodate vibrations during the runs including magnitude and frequency limitations. This may include a vibration spectrum that the facility is capable of producing; as well as, the vibrations that could be accommodated if the NASA provided seat system were to generate vibrations...."

Keith's 29 June note: Why is JSC putting this notice out in the first place? Are they not aware of the agency's existing capabilities - a prime example being the 20 G centrifuge at NASA ARC? You can find it using Google. Clearly the folks at JSC know where ARC is - they send astronauts there to fly the VMS all the time.

Check the video below and you can even see it spin!

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 wasnt scrutinized enough for possible conflicts of interest.

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

NASA JSC Solicitation: Sources sought for the SEA - Strategic Education Alliance Cooperative Agreement

"Posted Date: Dec 08, 2006 ... All responses shall be submitted to Kirby Condron no later than December 20, 2006 at 3:00 CST. In providing your response please reference SEA-SSS."

Editor's note: Notice the turnaround time: 12 calendar/8 working days - and the time of year. Either JSC already knows who they will fund - or they do not care if quality proposals are going to be prepared by educators who are in the midst of final exams before the holidays.

Editor's note: If you go to this page you will see that APL is now listed as a NASA Center - not only at the top of the page - but also along with the award notices listed below. It would certainly seem that NASA sprouted another field center overnight (with a contract award amount of $750,000,000 for the 5 year base period and an option for and extensive of equal length and value) - one where its Administrator was last employed - and one that is also located in the home state of someone who could become the next chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that controls NASA's budget. I don't see any mention of this new "center" status in the press releases that were issued. Click on image to enlarge.

  • NASA Awards Research, Development and Engineering Contract to the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Aerospace Research, Development, and Engineering Support
  • NASA Awards Applied Physics Lab R&D, Engineering Contract
  • "APL is one of three government or university affiliated institutions with the capability to perform all aspects of robotic space missions. This contract will provide a means to preserve this essential capability at APL, consistent with NASA's evolving needs. The contract includes extension options for up to an additional five years."

    GSA chief wants to end NASA contract, AP

    "The head of the U.S. General Services Administration has taken the unusual step of asking the White House to deny NASA's request to extend a multibillion-dollar government-wide information technology contract. A $4 billion space agency contract for buying computers and other IT products from IBM Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp., Unisys Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and CDW Corp., among others, is scheduled to end next year and NASA has received bids to extend the deal."

    Recent OIG Activity

    Online - But Still Broken?

    New Grant System Excludes Mac Users - Electronic Forms Compatible Only With Microsoft, Washington Post

    "The new "Grants.gov" system, under development at a cost of tens of billions of dollars, aims to replace paper applications with electronic forms. It is being phased in at the National Institutes of Health, Department of Housing and Urban Development and other federal agencies. All 26 grant-giving agencies are supposed to have their application processes fully online by 2007."

    Editor's note: NASA opportunities are also present on this system - but the accuracy of the information leaves something to be desired. Have a look at this announcement for the Mars Telecommunications Orbiter which was cancelled last year.

    "NASA appreciates the thoughtful responses and questions submitted during the early phase of this RFI. It is important to keep in mind the purpose of this RFI, to gather ideas on what alternative management models might be feasible for NASA's field centers. There is not just one way to organize ourselves to accomplish the exploration strategy, hence we are gathering and studying multiple ideas. We have answered the questions we believe to be within the scope of this RFI, listed those we believe to be beyond the scope of this RFI, and in a few cases, provided alternate sources of additional information. We look forward to your creative and thoughtful ideas."

    Read the responses: Responses to NASA Special Notice: Transforming the Private Sector Role in Space Operations, NASA

    Conference "Pre-solicitation Conference September 7, 2004. The initially planned date of September 1, 2004 was changed due to personnel/auditorium unavailability."

    Read the pre-solicitation: NASA Special Notice: NASA Shared Services Center Presolicitation

    "In addition, the Commission cited the insufficient methods for students to acquire hands-on experience in the scientific and technical disciplines necessary for space commerce and exploration. They called for an alliance between NASA and universities to create a 'virtual' space academy."

    Read the notice: NASA Special Notice: Plan for prioritizing teacher training, integrating existing math, science and engineering education intiatives; and exploring options for creating a virtual space academy, NASA

    "The NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) Procurement schedule has been revised to accommodate (1) a pre-solicitation conference; and (2) finalizing lease terms and conditions for the available site locations."

    Read the story: NASA Shared Services Center Revised Procurement Schedule

    "This is a modification to the synopsis entitled Human & Robotic Technology (H&RT) which was posted on June 29, 2004. You are notified that the following changes are made: Due to the tremendous response to NASA's BAA for H&RT and the resulting server problems, we are extending the due date time for the NOI submision to August 16th, 2004 at 12:00 PM EDT. The due date time for responses is extended. Documents related to this procurement will be available over the Internet."

    Read the notice modification: Modification to a Previous NASA Presolicitation Notice: Human and Robotic Technology

    "NASA hereby gives notice that Bigelow Development Aerospace Division, LLC, having offices in Las Vegas, NV, has applied for an exclusive license to practice the invention described and claimed in Patent No. 6,354,540 entitled ``Androgynous, Reconfigurable Closed Loop Feedback Controlled Low Impact Docking System With Load Sensing Electromagnetic Capture Ring,'' Case No. MSC-22931-1."

    Read the notice: NASA Notice of Prospective Patent License: Bigelow Development Aerospace Division, LLC

    NASA Special Notice: Transforming the Private Sector Role in Space Operations

    "In NASA decisions, the preferred choice for operational activities must be competitively awarded contracts with private and non-profit organizations and NASA's role must be limited to only those areas where there is irrefutable demonstration that only government can perform the proposed activity. One step to foster these goals would be to have operational activities done to the greatest extent possible by the private sector."

    NASA Special Notice: Expanded Use of NASA Contractual Authority to Obtain Ideas, Technologies, and Management Tools for Accomplishing Space Exploration

    "The Commission noted that if the Vision for Space Exploration is to succeed in an affordable, credible and sustainable way, it must access as much private sector technology as possible. The Commission also stated that an increase in the number and variety of commercial companies working in the field of space would vastly increase the processes and materials available for space exploration. The Commission spoke favorably of mechanisms to encourage private sector involvement in space such as prizes, tax incentives, regulatory relief, and settlement of property rights in space."


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