WASHINGTON — A list of active NASA Space Act Agreements — which allow the agency to formalize deals with public and private entities without having to abide by normal Federal Acquisition Regulations — shows the agency has nearly 1,800 such deals in place with domestic and international entities.
According to the lists, published online by NASA and current as of June 30, NASA’s 1,779 active Space Act Agreements include 1,086 deals with domestic entities and 693 with international entities. NASA can use Space Act Agreements to award funding, or to give non-NASA entities access to agency facilities, personnel and property, either for a fee or free.
Under a nonreimbursable Space Act Agreement, NASA foregoes a fee if the agency thinks the government will benefit from whatever activity the agreement authorizes. Counting funded Space Act Agreements and the approximate dollar value of nonreimbursable deals, active Space Act Agreements are costing the agency roughly $36 million, the list shows. The total does not include ongoing work funded via the roughly $1.1 billion in Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) Space Act Agreements awarded to Boeing Space Exploration, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and Sierra Nevada Corp. Space Systems in 2012.
NASA was directed to disclose its active Space Act Agreements in a report accompanying the 2014 omnibus spending bill that funds federal agencies through September. The report language, which does not carry the force of law as bill language does, was drafted by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the House Appropriations commerce, justice, science subcommittee where NASA spending bills originate.
Wolf has been critical of Space Act Agreements since 2009, when the agency began its commercial crew program and awarded several such pacts to pay for development of crewed spacecraft. Wolf complained the public lacked insight into the amount of money and in-kind services NASA provided to outsiders under Space Act Agreements, which are not governed by the same Federal Acquisition Regulations as traditional government contracts.