NASA awards $485M contract to consolidate mobile app development

Through the contract, the space agency hopes to place mobile app development under one roof: the NASA Enterprise Applications Competency Center.
Tarantula Nebula (X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/L.Townsley et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI; Infrared: NASA/JPL/PSU/L.Townsley et al. via Flickr)

Space may be ever expanding, but the number of centers at America’s space agency developing their own mobile apps should soon be getting smaller.

NASA announced Wednesday it awarded a $485 million contract to Science Applications International Corp. as part of an effort consolidate development of its applications, particularly for internal functions like payroll. Under the contract, NASA’s Enterprise Applications Competency Center — based at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama — may eventually serve as a hub for all application development within the agency.

The overarching goal of the 8-year contract, which will be administered by the NASA Shared Services Center at the agency’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, is to help the agency become more efficient, said Patrick Whelan, the contracting officer for the award. And he said the project aligns with an executive order directing agencies to streamline technology.

“We have to keep the taxpayers in mind because we’re all taxpayers,” Whelan said.


Currently, many of NASA’s 10 centers, like Kennedy Space Center, each have their own people developing applications for use internally. As a result, the agency has between 100 to 125 mobile applications, he said. If the plan is successful, the Enterprise Applications Competency Center will be able to cut that number down as it finds applications that serve similar functions.

The change won’t happen overnight, he said. Chief information officers at NASA’s centers must buy into the plan. But he said that the project has the support of NASA CIO Renee Wynn.

To get the project off the ground, Whelan said he and his colleagues spent the last two years working with headquarters, centers and business units to understand their needs and concerns. The phase-in begins Feb. 1, and the contract itself does not start until April.

“It took a long time to get this point,” said Whelan, who has worked in procurement 15 years. “But we got there.”

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