Author Topic: Senate CJS Appropriation Bill Full Committee Markup June 5th at 10 AM  (Read 65159 times)

Offline joek

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If it's a fixed-price contract, what difference does it make what the actual supplier expenses are? The cost to the government is the same whatever the supplier's expenses might be. If the expenses were so high that the supplier went out of business, then yes it would be an issue, but that possibility is negligible. Shelby is just fishing for a semi-plausible excuse to kill commercial crew.

Fixed price is unrelated to the requirement for offerors to provide certified cost or price data. For example (at the risk of oversimplifying):
- A fixed price contract which is not competitively bid would require certified cost/price data.
- A fixed price contract which is competitively bid would not require certified cost/price data.
Thee rules are documented in FAR 15.403, which you can find here.
« Last Edit: 07/07/2014 07:42 pm by joek »

Offline Prober

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...at least they tried to keep the lights on.

Isn't that one of the definitions of "pork"?  That work is funded even though work is not really needed?

If so, then as a taxpayer I'm not happy about that, regardless what department or agency it's in.

borderline pork, hibernation of some NASA centers could keep the lights on, but alive.

Some new members of Congress might not be so kind.


 
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Offline vulture4

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There is an almost unlimited amount of useful work NASA can do. In fact there are hundreds of proposals, some very good, presented every year, and rejected because funding isn't available. If Senator Shelby wants to keep MSFC open, why not let Marshall and the rest of the agency meet with industry and come up with useful ideas for ways NASA and industry can work together to advance technology? We don't need to be ordered to produce unneeded hardware just to spend money.
« Last Edit: 07/07/2014 09:34 pm by vulture4 »

Offline joek

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I would rather have a lower NASA budget and a lower budget for commercial crew than have language like this remain in the bill. This language goes against the very nature of commercial partnerships. It needs to go.

I wouldn't go so far as saying it goes against the very nature of commercial partnerships, although it certainly goes against the nature of competitive and commercial acquisitions, at least as embodied in FAR.

Beyond that, I think much of the language a bit hyperbolic, difficult to reconcile, or simply very, very odd.

There are so many examples I can't decide; although the one about "NASA-owned rocket testing infrastructure" (see below) is near the top of my list.  Apologies in advance for the long post.

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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.

To say that NASA waived "significant portions of the standard FAR-based contract" is excessive, unless your contract standard is non-compete or cost-plus.  And not all repayments are capped.  At completion of "delivery" milestones, payments are made and are not subject to repayment; interim or "financing" milestones are subject to repayment.  In other words, as long as the contractor meets their deliveries, NASA will pay and can't demand their money back.

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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.

Ironic.  John ELbon of Boeing stated at a House hearing Oct 2011 on commercial crew: "The second attribute is that the contractor should retain intellectual property rights. This is necessary to encourage investment in establishing a commercial market beyond transportation of NASA funded passengers to the International Space Station. Boeing believes that both these attributes can be achieved using a FAR based contract.

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As with any such project, the technical risk and probability for cost growth is high. Without the proper foundation and necessary requirements for certified cost and pricing data, NASA will have no insight into ongoing cost growth that could jeopardize the viability of the program.

"No insight" is an extreme claim.  Certified cost and price data is the magic ingredient that will stop cost growth in other NASA and US Government programs?

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In order for NASA and Congress to have the appropriate level of transparency to ensure that the cost of the program is in line with the activities undertaken and that it does not grow exponentially, 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.

Without certified cost and price data, the program cost will "grow exponentially"?  More hyperbole.

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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'm not sure what this is intended to accomplish beyond the existing CCtCap requirements.  CCtCap proposals are already required to include, on a per-milestone basis, the contractor contribution and the NASA contribution (price to NASA).  NASA pays on a per-milestone basis.  I have no idea what the typical milestone schedule looks like, but I bet they aren't too many months apart.  Maybe the Senators know something more and can explain.

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The Committee agrees with concern expressed by the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, the OIG, and others that Space Act agreements may not give NASA sufficient oversight to correct safety defects. The Committee directs NASA to only place astronauts on a commercial crew vehicle that NASA acquired under a FAR contract that allows NASA to require the company to meet all safety requirements.

NASA is using a FAR contract for CCtCap, and will use a FAR contract for crew services contract--NASA cannot legally do otherwise.  It's as if someone doesn't think CCtCap is really under FAR, and feels the need to gratuitously point that out.

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The Committee encourages NASA to develop plans to fully utilize NASA-owned rocket testing infrastructure for commercially developed launch vehicles to ensure that these vehicles are not only tested in the same manner as Government-developed launch vehicles but at the same facilities to ensure consistency in testing across all potential vehicles.

Wow.  Words fail.

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The additional investments NASA is currently making to advance crew vehicle development will ultimately enable greater competition for ISS cargo resupply missions through the creation of more viable entrants than were originally available. With a more mature competitive environment, the Committee believes that exceptions to procurement practices to provide reliable cargo transport may be unnecessary. 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.

A "more mature competitive environment" means we should now eliminate competitive procurement practices?  At least someone had the decency to include "may" and "should".
« Last Edit: 07/08/2014 01:16 am by joek »

Offline QuantumG

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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'm not sure what this is intended to accomplish beyond the existing CCtCap requirements.  CCtCap proposals are already required to include, on a per-milestone basis, the contractor contribution and the NASA contribution (price to NASA).  NASA pays on a per-milestone basis.  I have no idea what the typical milestone schedule looks like, but I bet they aren't too many months apart.  Maybe the Senators know something more and can explain.

I doubt they'll get to see that, it'd be proprietary information. The demand for a report is basically a demand to make that information public.
Human spaceflight is basically just LARPing now.

Offline yg1968

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I would rather have a lower NASA budget and a lower budget for commercial crew than have language like this remain in the bill. This language goes against the very nature of commercial partnerships. It needs to go.

I wouldn't go so far as saying it goes against the very nature of commercial partnerships, although it certainly goes against the nature of competitive and commercial acquisitions, at least as embodied in FAR.

I agree that the Shelby languages contradicts FAR legislation and regulations. That's a point that I was trying to make in an earlier post. Shelby's language is in a report and the report isn't law. NASA couldn't go against the FAR rules and regulations even if it wanted too. The FAR part 15 rules are clear that certified cost and price data should not be requested if there is adequate price competition for the item or if a commercial item is being acquired by the government. As I said before, these exceptions also provide incentives for NASA not to downselect early. Having said that I still think that the language needs to be removed.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=34827.msg1211794#msg1211794
« Last Edit: 07/08/2014 02:10 pm by yg1968 »

Offline JohnFornaro

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Should be less Shelby bashing.   Senator Shelby is one of the "good guys".  Many might disagree, but he is an old school politician.   They sat down and worked with each other, compromised etc.   Whatever people think of Shelby, and a few other politicians; they understood NASA and congress.   When they are gone IMHO, they will be missed at least they tried to keep the lights on.

The sad truth is that Shelby owns the current state of affairs with NASA and HSF.  At one point in time, he may have been able to horse trade with other pols, but the clear result of all that trading is no USG launch until 2023 in the OIG "optimistic" sense.

I'm totally bummed, but there it is.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline JohnFornaro

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Op-eds on the Shelby language:
http://www.spacenews.com/article/opinion/41086focusing-on-priorities-in-human-access-to-leo


Yves:  Many thanks for the links. I'm crushed.

Quote from: the SpaceNews article
Cost and pricing data are the principal means of setting a reasonable price and protecting taxpayer interests.

Normally, human spaceflight would fall into this category. The only meaningful customer is the government and it has rather unique requirements. A truly healthy free market does not exist. Moreover, the taxpayers are contributing significant resources to the development of these capabilities, which they then will not own. Despite constant rhetoric to the contrary, there is nothing “commercial” about the commercial crew program. Without government demand, funding and support, the private companies working with NASA likely would not be in this business. Investors and shareholders would not stand for the expenditure of such resources, preferring to chase higher returns in a more profitable sector. This may be changing, but not in a time frame useful for government needs. From that standpoint, the Senate Appropriations Committee’s move to apply the FAR’s cost and pricing data to NASA’s efforts to acquire crewed access to low Earth orbit (LEO) makes perfect sense.

However — and there is always a “however” in public policy — it is also a mistake in this case. The United States does not apply the cost and pricing provisions of the FAR (among others) to its procurement of human launch services from Russia.

But, and there's always a but: I think the current state of affairs resembles Narcisstic Personality Disorder (NPD) more than anything.  There are nothing but political and corporate egos who are running the show these days, and they will not let there be any accomplishment unless their damn palms are greased.  That's the only way their egos are assuaged.
« Last Edit: 07/09/2014 03:16 am by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline yg1968

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Offline Sean Lynch

More on the Shelby language:
http://www.al.com/news/huntsville/index.ssf/2014/07/americas_most_influential_-_an.html
Thanks yg1968!
Quote from: from the link above
NASA and the White House don't like Shelby's rule, either, but the requirement is in the law as it came out of committee and awaits action on the Senate floor. To get rid of it, House and Senate negotiators will have to compromise after the budget measure passes the Senate and goes for reconciliation with the House budget.
I wonder what the probability is that the language can be removed.
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Offline Prober

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More on the Shelby language:
http://www.al.com/news/huntsville/index.ssf/2014/07/americas_most_influential_-_an.html
Thanks yg1968!
Quote from: from the link above
NASA and the White House don't like Shelby's rule, either, but the requirement is in the law as it came out of committee and awaits action on the Senate floor. To get rid of it, House and Senate negotiators will have to compromise after the budget measure passes the Senate and goes for reconciliation with the House budget.
I wonder what the probability is that the language can be removed.

its clear Shelby is after something, this says it all: negotiators will have to compromise
« Last Edit: 07/12/2014 02:44 am by Prober »
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Offline yg1968

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There is little chance that the Senate CJS bill will be passed before summer recess. There is a disagreement over the amendment procedures which is stalling the Senate's mini-bus bill (which includes the CJS bill). The most likely scenario is that there will be a CR until after the election:

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Meanwhile, the Senate has not passed any appropriations bills for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 due to a disagreement over amendments. A stopgap funding measure, also known as a continuing resolution, appears likely to keep the government running and avoid a shutdown through the midterm elections.
http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/211935-house-passes-sixth-15-appropriations-bill

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Unable to reach agreement on amendment procedures with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) pulled H.R. 4660, the “minibus” appropriations package, from consideration on the Senate floor on June 19. The bill includes FY15 appropriations for HUD and the Department of Transportation, as well as the USDA and Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bills.
http://nlihc.org/article/senate-hud-funding-bill-stalled-disagreement-over-amending-process
« Last Edit: 07/11/2014 07:38 pm by yg1968 »

Offline Rocket Science

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I think I would play political hardball with this language for accountability and expand it to the procurement of Russian commercial rides. The Russians would say FU and thus shut down flights to the ISS and might force it removal...
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Offline Lar

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I think I would play political hardball with this language for accountability and expand it to the procurement of Russian commercial rides. The Russians would say FU and thus shut down flights to the ISS and might force it removal...
That seems like not a good outcome to me.
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Offline Rocket Science

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I think I would play political hardball with this language for accountability and expand it to the procurement of Russian commercial rides. The Russians would say FU and thus shut down flights to the ISS and might force it removal...
That seems like not a good outcome to me.
Agreed and if it did it wouldn’t last long if it happened as all the heat would be focused on him. Since this all about supposedly fiscal accountability so shouldn’t it be across the board including SLS... We can’t stand by and let Shelby become the “self appointed Czar of U S spaceflight”... What would you do Lar, any thoughts?
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Offline yg1968

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« Last Edit: 08/04/2014 03:10 pm by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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Update by the Space Access Society on various bills:
http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/07/28/space-access-society-update/
« Last Edit: 08/04/2014 03:23 pm by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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Offline yg1968

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Update on the House CR. It will be a clean CR and will last until December:
http://www.spacepolitics.com/2014/08/22/house-gearing-up-for-cr-to-last-until-december/

Offline vulture4

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"NASA and the White House don't like Shelby's rule, either, but the requirement is in the law as it came out of committee and awaits action on the Senate floor. To get rid of it, House and Senate negotiators will have to compromise after the budget measure passes the Senate and goes for reconciliation with the House budget."

In spite of this quote from the AL.com website, in reality the language regarding financial reporting is in the committee report on the bill, not in the bill itself. The committee report is presented to the full Senate and could affect the amendment process if the bill goes to a conference committee. But the committee report does not have the force of law and if the House should pass a budget bill identical to the Senate's, the Shelby language would not be in it.
« Last Edit: 08/26/2014 04:20 am by vulture4 »

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