Outsourcing controversy blasts NASA; PA chief is latest to resign

WASHINGTON: NASA head of public affairs Jerry Brown abruptly

resigned his post on July 27, the latest casualty of what a number of

former NASA employees are calling intense pressure from senior staff to

award outsourced projects in an anticompetitive manner.



According to sources speaking on condition of anonymity, Brown was one

of many employees at the agency encouraged to feed new projects to

companies with existing NASA contracts rather than let them be offered

on the open market. Two other high-level employees who have recently

resigned cited this "unethical" situation as the reason behind their

departures.



Brown started at the agency on April 10. A spokesperson at NASA said no

plans have yet been made to replace him. Brown would not comment for

this story.



Chief of staff and White House liaison Courtney Stadd, deputy chief of

staff Richard Cooper, and special assistant Ron Birk were named as those

applying the pressure. Each has close ties to companies that were

supposed to receive mapping projects.



Companies named include Pixsell (which was founded by Stadd), Global

Initiatives (where Cooper was president until earlier this year), and

Intermap Technologies (which recently claimed Birk as a VP).



Cooper flatly denied the accusations and declined further comment. Birk

and Stadd did not return calls as of press time.



"They are trying to move out people who are in the way," said one NASA

employee who resigned several months ago. "We try to uphold the

competitive process at (NASA) headquarters, but these guys are

definitely not going down that path."



Said another longtime employee who was recently asked to resign, "I've

never seen it this bad. People are having to keep their mouths shut to

keep their jobs."



Brian Bullock, president of Intermap, said he was unaware of any

pressure being applied at NASA to drive business to his company, though

he said that new work orders had been received. "Our first set of tasks

were evaluated internally and we received the highest marks. I don't

think it's unusual at all that people would ask for more product."



Bob Jacobs, NASA news chief, said the organization would not comment on

the allegations.



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