Suing NASA for Agency Records

Sounds like they're mad. On the American Small Business League's website today, a press release appears under the header, NASA Sued Over Fraudulent Contract Data.

However, to be more precise, at least as I read the complaint in American Small Business League v. NASA, filed yesterday in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, (a copy of which ASBL president Lloyd Chapman graciously forwarded to me this afternoon), the action is "under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. ยง 552, ("FOIA") for injunctive and other appropriate relief to compel the disclosure and release of documents improperly withheld from Plaintiff by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration."

Pursuant to its FOIA request of December 2005, the small business watchdog group has sought "'all documents in possession of NASA indicating the names of the firms coded as small businesses' for the years 2002, 2003 and 2004 'and the dollar amounts they were awarded an [sic] NASA small business contracts.'" Allegedly, NASA had acknowledged receipt of the request but failed to respond. ASBL now seeks a court order compelling NASA to immediately cough up the goods.

In the League's press release, Chapman states, "I believe NASA is falsifying their small business reports to Congress and I believe that they are allowing their contractors to falsify their small business reports. I've also seen evidence that NASA is protecting large companies that are intentionally misrepresenting themselves as small in order to illegally receive small business contracts."

The release also refers to this GAO report:
Reporting of Small Business Contract Awards Does Not Reflect Current Business Size. (May 7, 2003)

ASBL's action here highlights interesting, although not quite new, questions and concerns about whether small business awards always go to small businesses. (See this
SBA report, dated Feb. 24, 2005, which essentially says they do not.)

It is unclear whether NASA wrongfully withheld agency records and what happened in connection with NASA's response to ASBL's original FOIA request. Most certainly NASA will respond now.

(Hat Tip:
NASA Watch.)

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