- NASA Watch
- January 31, 2023
That NASA SLS Small Business Report Is Out Of Date
Keith’s note: With mounting focus on whether the SLS/Orion Artemis program’s delays and cost overruns will continue and how they might be dealt with, one would think that NASA would want to have all of the supportive information it has generated to be accurate so as to best make the case. Given that a lot of money is being thrown around for COVID recovery – and more talk of lots of infrastructure investments is in the wind – there is even more to support having the best information – information that is consistent across the agency – as these things are discussed. You’d also want to have the agency’s website configure das as to make those supportive things easy to find. But NASA doesn’t do that whole consistency and access thing very well.
You’d also expect that the big aerospace companies who stand to make huge profits – no matter how delayed the Artemis program is – and their external support groups like Aerospace Industries Association, Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, and the Space Foundation, would want to see accurate agency numbers and supporting information on the impact of this spending that they can cite so as to be on the same page as NASA.
On 5 May 2016 I noticed a tweet from the NASA Office of Small Business Programs that “Over 800 #smallbusinesses are contributing to the development of the Space Launch System”. So I enquired and eventually got more detail about a repeort that they had just issued: “Space Launch System: A Case For Small Business“.
If you go to “Space Launch System: A Case For Small Business” you will see that it was published 5 years ago – in 2016 – based on FY 2015 budgets and plans when Charlie Bolden was Administrator. No one has since bothered to update it for the Artemis program changes made during the Trump Administration including the new contracts that were awarded. Also missed are the changes due to cost overruns and program delays. So the numbers are all out of date. The report refers to “Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) scheduled for launch in 2018” on page 10 and refers to “Orbital ATK” which became part of Northrop Grumman several years ago.
Page 74 refers to “NASA Vendor Database: https://vendors.nvdb.nasa.gov“ but if you go to that link you are redirected to the NASA OSBP home page which has no links to anything having do so with a “vendor database”. But if you search do a Google search for “NASA Vendor Database” you get this link https://osbp.nasa.gov/vendor_database.html which works. But if you search for “NASA Vendor Database” at the NASA.gov web search tool you get nonsense results (which are mostly NASA JSC Oral history project links) that make no mention of the database or its location.
Oh yes – if you look at the upper right hand corner of the NASA OSBP home page you will see a little blue “FIND IT @ NASA” box with a place to type NASA search queries. This NASA search engine does not even bother to work at all.
If you go to OSBP publications you will see a lot of reports and this SLS report is listed despite being somewhat out of date. But if you click on the “view online” link – good luck. This is a link to a Flash Player resource that NASA’s websites (and most browsers) no longer support. But why fix the link – the end of Flash support was only a change that affected websites all over the world.
Oh yes – there is also a report “”NASA Deep Space Human Exploration Spacecraft Orion: A Case For Small Business” with the same level of stale data and policy attributes that the SLS report has.
You have to wonder: does NASA’s actual business office work from numbers this stale? Does NASA’s Office of Legislative Affairs? One would hope not – but when the agency allows woefully out of date stuff like this to stay online all that does is create another set of official facts that are not in synch with whatever is really going on.