GAO Urges Air Force to Adjust EELV Procurement

The Defense Department needs to ensure it has enough information and take an incremental approach for future space launches to ensure that new competition vying for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle procurement is ready, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released this week. The Air Force previously used a cost-reimbursement contract with United Launch Alliance to provide launch services, a model that lets the service obtain data on cost and performance, the GAO noted. Going forward, however, the service opened up the launches for additional competition under a firm-fixed-price contract, preventing the service from gathering as much data. This means the service “will have significantly less insight” into performance and costs, according to the GAO. Going forward, the Air Force will have an acquisition strategy without actionable data from previous launches, according to the watchdogs. To address this, the service needs to move in an “incremental” approach by slowing the acquisition process down to make sure it has enough information to make the right decision as more competition, including SpaceX, vies for contracts.