National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Streamline Procurement

Streamline the procurement process for hardware and software to (a) get rid of the "short list" of approved vendors, and (b) eliminate insight/oversight requirements for parts which are in ubiquity in industry. For really ubiquitous items (e.g., fasteners and adhesives), the procurements department could even make bulk purchases and then provide them to programs out of an existing inventory.

 

It's understandable if the vendor is being asked to deliver something requiring engineering effort that documentation of the design, integration, and test would be desirable. Shadow engineering by the federal government of its vendors--in which each engineer at the vendor is assigned an insight/oversight engineer from the government during design, development, integration, test, and delivery--is not desirable, but seems to be a growing practice. If the item being designed stretches current technology so far, it shouldn't be being procured anyway, but built in-house.

 

For components in ubiquity in commercial applications--solar array drives, RF hardware, attitude control components, propellant tanks, and similar hardware, entire programs can experience schedule pressure or risk not even being selected (funded) if the parts chosen by the engineers--often optimized for the application--do not conform to the expectations of the procurement department. If the application engineers can't design around commercial-grade reliability and risk standards, then there's a problem with the design, not with the idea of procuring parts the way every other industry does: by buying the hardware only and not the engineers who produce it.

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Idea No. 13262