Earlier this week the Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied a protest by Rocketplane Kistler (RpK) regarding the NASA COTS recompete. RpK had protested NASA’s use of a funded Space Act Agreement (the same type that RpK had, and then lost, last year when it failed to meet milestones in the agreement) for the COTS recompete, arguing that a more conventional procurement should instead be used. The GAO found that since COTS is not intended to “principally provide for the acquisition of goods and services for the direct benefit and use of NASA,” the agency is not required to follow conventional procurement processes and can instead use Space Act Agreements.
The RpK protest had prevented NASA from continuing with the COTS award process: language inserted into the omnibus appropriations bill passed in December directed NASA not to select a new contractor until all challenges are decided.” The GAO’s denial of RpK’s protest has satisfied Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who added that provision, Space News reported yesterday. [subscription required] NASA is apparently free to make one or more awards as early as next week: one of the companies identified as finalists, PlanetSpace, said it expects a decision on February 8, a week from Friday.