Caltech wins $8 billion deal to run Jet Propulsion Lab

The California Institute of Technology has won a contract worth about $8 billion to continue to run the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA announced Nov. 26.

Following the expiration of CalTech's current contract in September 2003, the new one will run five years, pending successful performance reviews.

The contract calls for CalTech to align JPL's policies and procedures more closely with other NASA centers. It also grants the lab the ability to review and comment directly on NASA policies that affect its performance.

"This new contract gives NASA much improved capabilities and management tools and provides powerful incentives for JPL," Ed Weiler, NASA's associate administrator for space science, said.

JPL in Pasadena, Calif., is NASA's sole research center for conducting space research and supporting the agency's space missions. It manages the Mars Exploration Program, which is operating two spacecraft orbiting Mars, as well as the Deep Space Network, a data network being developed for interplanetary spacecraft.

JPL works widely with contractors. For example, Lockheed Martin Corp., Bethesda, Md., holds a 10-year, $200 million Desktop and Network Services contract for the laboratory, awarded in 1997, according to the market research firm Input Inc. of Chantilly, Va.

JPL also will participate in the NASA-wide electronic commerce acquisition and management system. The request-for-proposal for the system is expected in April 2003, according to Input.

In October, the laboratory opened a commercialization center, which provides companies with information on the capabilities and technologies needed by JPL.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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