Author Topic: Senate CJS Appropriation Bill Full Committee Markup June 5th at 10 AM  (Read 65129 times)

Offline peter-b

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Does anyone think SpaceX would take their toys and go home if they were required to start full FAR25 cost accounting?
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Offline QuantumG

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Does anyone think SpaceX would take their toys and go home if they were required to start full FAR25 cost accounting?

They won't punch clocks. I'm sure they'll submit to just about anything else before walking away.
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline Sean Lynch

Does anyone think SpaceX would take their toys and go home if they were required to start full FAR25 cost accounting?

They won't punch clocks. I'm sure they'll submit to just about anything else before walking away.
The question is can SpaceX or any other commercial provider afford to do the paperwork Shelby's amendment requires and have money leftover for hardware?
I would say SpaceX probably already has the business systems in place to provide the data.
SpaceX might be inclined to disclose cost and designs of their vertically integrated business processes because the monolithic competitors have too much internal inertia to evolve the new paradigms SpaceX is founded upon.
Of course competitors could simply decline ISS resupply and crew programs if the new requirements will harm their long term business strategies of capturing the world's commercial launch markets.
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Offline Proponent

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Isn't it at least a little odd that Shelby is so strongly against Commercial Crew, given that two of the three front runners would fly on Atlas Vs, which are assembled in his state.  I wonder whether his recent move is payback for SpaceX's lawsuit.

Offline Sean Lynch

Isn't it at least a little odd that Shelby is so strongly against Commercial Crew, given that two of the three front runners would fly on Atlas Vs, which are assembled in his state.  I wonder whether his recent move is payback for SpaceX's lawsuit.
I see Shelby as moving to slow competition in the USG launch market and minimize the R&D funding available for competitors by adding onerous burdens to the commercial front runners. The ULA family and their politicians including Shelby don't care as much about jobs as they care about protecting the primary USG ULA family revenue stream for as long as possible. Requiring funds for paperwork that would otherwise be used for reinvestment in technology development is a clever ploy, as is a requirement for technology disclosure under FAR rules on the part of competitors.
We'll have to see how Shelby's rules impact NASA's use of Space Act Agreements going forward. See page 134 of draft CJS FY2015 report (attached, sourced upthread).
My opinion; it's all about the money, ISS will starve or burn if it benefits the entrenched USG space monopoly revenue streams to special interests.
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Offline john smith 19

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A history of the COTS programme indicated that using SAA's they were able to put by 3% of budget for "Programme Management." But the usual level is 15%.

I guess Shelby's requirement will do tht for the $805m as well as waste a load of what ever increase the committee has given.

Thanks a bunch Sen. Shelby.  :(

However before people think "30:0 no one opposed this?" I think the vote was one of these "all or nothing" things. IOW disagree on this NASA thing and everything  is put on hold.

Clearly any opposition to the "Honorable Gentleman from Alabama" was grossly ineffective.  :(
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Offline Sean Lynch

From the General Falcon and Dragon Discussion (Thread 10):
edit: btw: reads the same as Floridatoday article posted by yg1968 above...
If you look at the article, there is some language in the Senate / House bill that would force NASA to start over on negotiations for the commercial crew program. It would turn this into a more traditional government program.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/06/05/nasa-space-station-senate-shelby/10033153/

Quote
WASHINGTON — Advocates of aerospace firms vying to deliver cargo and crew to the International Space Station are concerned that language in a Senate spending bill that a key committee passed Thursday could make it more difficult and expensive to carry out those missions.

The provision, sponsored by Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, would require firms in the commercial crew and commercial cargo programs to submit "certified cost and pricing data" similar to what's required in traditional contracts NASA uses for other services.

Shelby's proposal is included in a spending bill the Senate Appropriations Committee passed 30-0 Thursday to fund several federal agencies, including NASA, in the 2015 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

"The language would effectively change an efficient and lean commercial program into a traditional government procurement with all of the associated overhead and cost," said Alex Saltman, executive director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

"In addition, if this language were to become law before NASA awards the latest commercial crew contracts, NASA would likely have to restart the procurement with these new rules, pushing back the program up to a year and sending hundreds of millions of more taxpayer dollars to Russia for Soyuz rides," Saltman added. "If the language were to go into effect after the awards, NASA could be tied up in contract renegotiations and challenges for months, if not years."

Quote
NASA officials declined to comment, saying they were still reviewing the Senate language. There was no immediate comment from SpaceX. The California firm has a contract with NASA to deliver cargo to the space station and is among the competitors for the contract to transport astronauts as well.

Another commercial space advocate, the Space Access Society, said Shelby was sponsoring the language merely to protect the "massively wasteful" space launch system. Much of the work to develop SLS is being conducted at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., which Shelby represents.

Asked about the criticism of his motives after Thursday's hearing, Shelby said simply: "That's not true. We're looking for transparency."
« Last Edit: 06/06/2014 11:49 am by Sean Lynch »
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Offline OpsAnalyst

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Having fought a few of these battles on behalf of my own company over the years (I've always insisted on invoking FAR 15 for work packages that involve requirements analysis and report production, which we did on an FFP basis), it might be worth pointing out that the language is actually more proscriptive in the portion referring to quarterly reporting than to the FAR, _if_ a "strict" reading of the latter is applied.  To wit:

Shelby's language:

"...the Committee directs NASA to maintain FAR 15.403-4, related to certified cost and pricing data for prime contractors, for any contracts entered into to support the development of a commercial crew vehicle.  Further, NASA shall require quarterly reports to be submitted to NASA and the Committee that detail the funds invested by NASA and by the awardees during the previous quarter and cumulatively, including legacy launch systems that may be integrated with the crew vehicle."

FAR 15.403-4:
(1) The contracting officer shall obtain certified cost or pricing data only if the contracting officer concludes that none of the exceptions in 15.403-1(b) applies.

FAR 15.403-1(b):
15.403-1 Prohibition on obtaining certified cost or pricing data (10 U.S.C. 2306a and 41 U.S.C. 254b).

(b) Exceptions to certified cost or pricing data requirements. The contracting officer shall not require certified cost or pricing data to support any action (contracts, subcontracts, or modifications) (but may require data other than certified cost or pricing data as defined in FAR 2.101 to support a determination of a fair and reasonable price or cost realism)
(1) When the contracting officer determines that prices agreed upon are based on adequate price competition (see standards in paragraph (c)(1) of this subsection);
(2) When the contracting officer determines that prices agreed upon are based on prices set by law or regulation (see standards in paragraph (c)(2) of this subsection);
(3) When a commercial item is being acquired (see standards in paragraph (c)(3) of this subsection);
(4) When a waiver has been granted (see standards in paragraph (c)(4) of this subsection); or
(5) When modifying a contract or subcontract for commercial items (see standards in paragraph (c)(3) of this subsection).

Without going into all the standards, clauses and subclauses (which are important because they provide the legal definitions invoked in 1-5), there could be some room to 'work around' the apparent intent of the CJS language re: FAR. 

The quarterly reports requirement is another thing.
« Last Edit: 06/06/2014 01:33 pm by OpsAnalyst »

Offline Rocket Science

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Isn't it at least a little odd that Shelby is so strongly against Commercial Crew, given that two of the three front runners would fly on Atlas Vs, which are assembled in his state.  I wonder whether his recent move is payback for SpaceX's lawsuit.
I see Shelby as moving to slow competition in the USG launch market and minimize the R&D funding available for competitors by adding onerous burdens to the commercial front runners. The ULA family and their politicians including Shelby don't care as much about jobs as they care about protecting the primary USG ULA family revenue stream for as long as possible. Requiring funds for paperwork that would otherwise be used for reinvestment in technology development is a clever ploy, as is a requirement for technology disclosure under FAR rules on the part of competitors.
We'll have to see how Shelby's rules impact NASA's use of Space Act Agreements going forward. See page 134 of draft CJS FY2015 report (attached, sourced upthread).
My opinion; it's all about the money, ISS will starve or burn if it benefits the entrenched USG space monopoly revenue streams to special interests.
Nah, he just seems to prefer Russian Commercial Crew...
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Offline Sean Lynch

In reading OpsAnalyst and Rocket Science's posts above, Shelby's secret plan to put humans on Mars became clear.
In two years we shall stand upon the resultant pile of paperwork generated by the commercial crew program every quarter and simply step off of the pile to the surface of mars. Brilliant!
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Offline Go4TLI

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I really dislike space advocates in all forms any more.  What so many of these groups and even folks on here and elsewhere don't realize is that you are your own worse enemy. 

These advocacy groups, and the vocal bloggers here and elsewhere who tend to view things from only their desired perspective, are contributing to ripping things apart. 

Casting motives, implying evilness, etc, on Shelby without knowing the facts is disingenuous.  These same people who feel so free to do that upon their "alter of righteousness" would be up in arms (and were recently) if questions about Musk's motives and character were raised that goes against what the mythic perception wants it to be. 

Fact is funding for commercial crew went up, there seems to be no happiness about that at all.  This is not the final bill as it needs to go to a joint session!!  And if it is in there ultimately, there are potential ways around this as OpsAnalyst pointed out.  Instead we have advocacy groups calling other useful programs a "waste", etc and people being openly hostile just further poking and provoking because, in reality, they want more money while calling out "others" and accusing them of the same thing.

Programs that are currently in work are and can be synergistic to each other.  It's been a VERY rocky past 5 years.  But, what I have concluded, is that everyone wants it their way and nobody will ever be happy unless it is their way and only their way.  When China, perhaps Russia eventually, surpass the US we, the United States, will have "space advocacy" partly to blame. 

This attitude that seems like a cancer everywhere is one reason I am considering leaving this industry.  I don't see anything useful, in an integrated fashion, ever getting done because of it. 

Offline yg1968

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Having fought a few of these battles on behalf of my own company over the years (I've always insisted on invoking FAR 15 for work packages that involve requirements analysis and report production, which we did on an FFP basis), it might be worth pointing out that the language is actually more proscriptive in the portion referring to quarterly reporting than to the FAR, _if_ a "strict" reading of the latter is applied.  To wit:

Shelby's language:

"...the Committee directs NASA to maintain FAR 15.403-4, related to certified cost and pricing data for prime contractors, for any contracts entered into to support the development of a commercial crew vehicle.  Further, NASA shall require quarterly reports to be submitted to NASA and the Committee that detail the funds invested by NASA and by the awardees during the previous quarter and cumulatively, including legacy launch systems that may be integrated with the crew vehicle."

I don't see any wiggle room. In the case of commercial crew, the introduction makes it clear what the intent of the language is:

Quote
While NASA has chosen to use a FAR-based contract, it has also waived significant portions of the standard FAR-based contract, including verifiable cost data, capping repayment of funds in case of inability to perform, and rights in data. NASA has informed the Committee that these deviations were necessary to ensure competition. However, with multiple entrants that collectively have extensive Federal contracting experience, the Committee questions the true need to waive these traditional requirements.

In the case of CRS2, it is spelled out more clearly:

Quote
As NASA begins soliciting participants for the second round of cargo resupply missions, certified cost and pricing data should be required and made available to NASA.

The House Report doesn't contain this language. So maybe there is hope that the language in the final report will change.
« Last Edit: 06/06/2014 02:50 pm by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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The language needs to be taken out as quickly as possible. It risks delaying CCtCap and CRS2. The final CJS Approppriation bill might not be passed by Congress until after the election. 
« Last Edit: 06/06/2014 02:52 pm by yg1968 »

Offline OpsAnalyst

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Having fought a few of these battles on behalf of my own company over the years (I've always insisted on invoking FAR 15 for work packages that involve requirements analysis and report production, which we did on an FFP basis), it might be worth pointing out that the language is actually more proscriptive in the portion referring to quarterly reporting than to the FAR, _if_ a "strict" reading of the latter is applied.  To wit:

Shelby's language:

"...the Committee directs NASA to maintain FAR 15.403-4, related to certified cost and pricing data for prime contractors, for any contracts entered into to support the development of a commercial crew vehicle.  Further, NASA shall require quarterly reports to be submitted to NASA and the Committee that detail the funds invested by NASA and by the awardees during the previous quarter and cumulatively, including legacy launch systems that may be integrated with the crew vehicle."

I don't see any wiggle room. In the case of commercial crew, the introduction makes it clear what the intent of the language is:

Quote
While NASA has chosen to use a FAR-based contract, it has also waived significant portions of the standard FAR-based contract, including verifiable cost data, capping repayment of funds in case of inability to perform, and rights in data. NASA has informed the Committee that these deviations were necessary to ensure competition. However, with multiple entrants that collectively have extensive Federal contracting experience, the Committee questions the true need to waive these traditional requirements.

In the case of CRS2, it is spelled out more clearly:

Quote
As NASA begins soliciting participants for the second round of cargo resupply missions, certified cost and pricing data should be required and made available to NASA.

The House Report doesn't contain this language. So maybe there is hope that the language in the final report will change.

I'm not arguing about intent but responding to legally-binding language, which is only present in "directs" and "shall".   Hence my statement about wiggle room.  It all depends on how much chutzpah is brought to the interpretation ;)

I concur completely that the language needs to go ASAP...but (speculating here) it may have been necessary, in the way of these things, to get the bill to this point, with $805M for CC.
« Last Edit: 06/06/2014 03:15 pm by OpsAnalyst »

Offline yg1968

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« Last Edit: 06/06/2014 04:42 pm by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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I'm not arguing about intent but responding to legally-binding language, which is only present in "directs" and "shall".   Hence my statement about wiggle room.  It all depends on how much chutzpah is brought to the interpretation ;)

I concur completely that the language needs to go ASAP...but (speculating here) it may have been necessary, in the way of these things, to get the bill to this point, with $805M for CC.

My understanding is that the language in the report isn't legally binding (because the report is not part of the legislation). But NASA generally follows it. Otherwise, the appropriators could refuse to release the funds for commercial crew and cargo to NASA. 
« Last Edit: 06/06/2014 04:08 pm by yg1968 »

Offline OpsAnalyst

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I'm not arguing about intent but responding to legally-binding language, which is only present in "directs" and "shall".   Hence my statement about wiggle room.  It all depends on how much chutzpah is brought to the interpretation ;)

I concur completely that the language needs to go ASAP...but (speculating here) it may have been necessary, in the way of these things, to get the bill to this point, with $805M for CC.

My understanding is that the language in the report isn't legally binding (because the report is not part of the legislation). But NASA generally follows it. Otherwise, the appropriators could refuse to release the funds for commercial crew and cargo to NASA. 

True.  History, however, tells us that at various times, NASA has responded in varying ways and degrees to language and intent.  See: 2011-2013.  This is true of all agencies at various points in time, though...at any rate, here's hoping the language goes away.

Offline yg1968

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Space politics has a good summary of the Senate's CJS appropriation bill as it relates to NASA:
http://www.spacepolitics.com/2014/06/06/examining-the-senates-nasa-funding-bill/

Offline yg1968

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Here is another article on Shelby's poison pill. I am glad this is starting to get media coverage. I am also glad the CSF is strongly against it.
http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2014/06/nasa-budget-bill-could-include-a-poison-pill-for-spacex-other-commercial-companies/#22787101=0
https://twitter.com/csf_spaceflight/status/474958918347948032
« Last Edit: 06/06/2014 05:15 pm by yg1968 »

Offline OpsAnalyst

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Post by Houston Chronicle Eric Berger on his blog re: Shelby language:  "It's just bad policy".

http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2014/06/nasa-budget-bill-could-include-a-poison-pill-for-spacex-other-commercial-companies/#22787101=0

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