Up to date 6:45 p.m. Jap with Dynetics assertion.
ORLANDO — The U.S. Authorities Accountability Workplace denied protests July 30 that Blue Origin and Dynetics filed of NASA’s award of a single lunar lander contract to SpaceX.
In an announcement, the GAO mentioned that NASA didn’t violate procurement legislation when it determined to make a single Human Touchdown System (HLS) award to SpaceX in April after beforehand stating its intent to make two such awards.
“In denying the protests, GAO first concluded that NASA didn’t violate procurement legislation or regulation when it determined to make just one award,” Kenneth E. Patton, managing affiliate normal counsel for procurement legislation on the GAO, mentioned within the assertion. The company made clear within the competitors that awards have been contingent on obtainable funding, and reserved the appropriate to make a single award, or none in any respect.
“GAO additional concluded there was no requirement for NASA to interact in discussions, amend, or cancel the announcement because of the quantity of funding obtainable for this system,” Patton mentioned. “Because of this, GAO denied the protest arguments that NASA acted improperly in making a single award to SpaceX.”
The GAO additionally denied claims Blue Origin and Dynetics made that NASA improperly evaluated the 2 corporations’ proposals. “GAO subsequent concluded that the analysis of all three proposals was affordable, and per relevant procurement legislation, regulation, and the announcement’s phrases,” he mentioned within the assertion.
The GAO did agree with the businesses that NASA waived a “necessary solicitation requirement” for SpaceX. “Regardless of this discovering, the choice additionally concludes that the protesters couldn’t set up any affordable chance of aggressive prejudice arising from this restricted discrepancy within the analysis,” Patton concluded.
Blue Origin and Dynetics filed protests April 26, 10 days after NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to develop a crewed lunar lander, based mostly on the corporate’s Starship car, and carry out an illustration mission. Later lander missions will probably be open to SpaceX and different corporations by way of a separate competitors.
“NASA has executed a flawed acquisition for the Human Touchdown System program and moved the goalposts on the final minute,” Blue Origin mentioned in April when it filed the protest, complaining that, amongst different points, it was not given a possibility to revise its proposal.
“Dynetics has points and considerations with a number of features of the acquisition course of in addition to components of NASA’s technical analysis and filed a protest with the GAO to deal with them,” Dynetics mentioned in an announcement in April when it filed its separate protest. It argued that NASA ought to have revised the HLS competitors, or canceled it, when realized the anticipated stage of funding wouldn’t be obtainable.
“We stand agency in our perception that there have been elementary points with NASA’s resolution, however the GAO wasn’t capable of handle them resulting from their restricted jurisdiction,” a Blue Origin spokesperson mentioned in an announcement to table4. “We’ll proceed to advocate for 2 rapid suppliers as we imagine it’s the proper answer.”
In an announcement late July 30, Dynetics mentioned that “whereas upset, we respect the GAO’s willpower introduced right this moment.” The corporate mentioned it’s persevering with to work on its lander design and plans to pursue future alternatives, similar to an ongoing NASA competitors to supply small quantities of funding for corporations who plan to supply landers for future missions.
“We imagine wholesome competitors is critical to keep up the economic base required to realize the vital strategic targets of house exploration and nationwide safety,” the corporate said.
The GAO’s resolution ought to unencumber NASA to proceed on its HLS contract with SpaceX, which had been in limbo because the protests have been filed. NASA officers had declined to debate particulars about their plans to develop lunar landers, citing a “blackout” interval in the course of the GAO’s analysis of the protests.
“We’re prohibited by legislation, and the procedures and insurance policies of the GAO, from commenting and getting in on this competitors, this bid protest,” NASA Administrator Invoice Nelson mentioned at a July 29 press convention on the Kennedy House Middle.
In an announcement a number of hours after the GAO introduced its denial of the protests, NASA mentioned it might now transfer forward with its award to SpaceX. “The choice permits NASA to award the contract that can finally consequence within the first crewed demonstration touchdown on the floor of the moon below NASA’s Artemis plan,” the company mentioned.
“Importantly, the GAO’s resolution will permit NASA and SpaceX to determine a timeline for the primary crewed touchdown on the moon in additional than 50 years,” NASA added. “As quickly as attainable, NASA will present an replace on the way in which forward for Artemis, the human touchdown system, and humanity’s return to the moon.”
The GAO’s rejection of the protests is no surprise, given the comparatively low success fee of contract protests. The GAO mentioned in a December 2020 report that it sustained 15% of protests it resolved in fiscal 12 months 2020, in comparison with 13% in fiscal 12 months 2019. The one shock was the timing of the announcement: the GAO had till Aug. 4 to rule on the protests, and Nelson, amongst others, had anticipated the GAO to attend till the deadline given the complexity of the protests.
Nelson mentioned on the July 29 press convention that he nonetheless supported competitors within the HLS program, offered there was adequate funding. “I’m very optimistic at this level that Congress goes to offer us some extra funds that can permit us to go ahead with that competitors,” he mentioned, though Congress has not but taken steps to supply important extra funding to allow a second HLS award.
The GAO mentioned the protest resolution was below a protecting order as a result of it incorporates proprietary data from the businesses concerned. The company has requested the businesses to determine what data is taken into account proprietary in order that it could actually launch a public model of the choice doc.