Marco Rubio, Rick Scott Want to Reform NASA’s Procurement Contracts

Florida’s two U.S. senators–Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott–are proposing reforming how NASA handles procurement contracts.

Rubio, Scott and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex., teamed up last week to unveil the “Contracts and Obligations Modernization for Efficient Terms of Service (COMETS) Act.”

On Thursday, Rubio introduced the bill and his office explained the rationale behind it.

“This legislation would allow NASA to use its procurement contracts to acquire supplies and services to meet not only NASA requirements, but also the requirements of its commercial partners. This needed modernization would enable more efficient NASA center operations across the country, which becomes increasingly important as the commercial space sector expands and NASA’s many commercial partners succeed and scale their operations,” Rubio’s office noted. “Currently, federal law does not allow NASA to include commercial partners’ needs in its requirements determinations for its planned contracting actions, even though commercial partners are required to contract for their own services where practicable and, in certain cases, can take advantage of excess capacity in existing government-provided commodities and services.”

“NASA Space Centers, such as Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, are experiencing remarkable growth, but are currently unable to include the needs of commercial entities in its procurement contracts,” Rubio said. “This legislative fix is needed to allow NASA to appropriately size its contracts to fill both government and commercial needs and help better facilitate informed business decisions. As the commercial space sector continues to grow in Florida and across our nation, it is imperative this law is updated to allow for increased efficiency and continued flourishing for America’s space industry.”

“Texas has established a legacy throughout America’s space history thanks to the work of NASA and the Johnson Space Center,” Cornyn said. “NASA and JSC must be allowed the flexibility to enter into commonsense contracts to ensure the U.S. is well-positioned for the future of space exploration.”

“The space industry has long been an important and iconic part of Florida’s history and economy. Throughout my time as governor and now as senator, we’ve worked to make sure the businesses and families on our Space Coast have every resource they need to thrive. I’m proud to support the COMETS Act to build on our efforts and continue the incredible growth and success of Florida’s Space Coast,” Scott said.

The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee last week. So far, there is no counterpart over in the U.S. House.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

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