While the design of LC-39 and the industrial area was still under way, LOC sought contractors who would operate and maintain the Merritt Island facilities. On 22 April 1963 LOC suggested four possibilities to Albert Siepert, NASA's Director of Administration in Washington, who would soon join LOC's management:
• Extension of the current Air Force contract with Pan American Airways to provide services for Merritt Island similar to those being provided for Cape Canaveral's Missile Test Area.
• Employment of a single NASA support contractor to provide all services.
• Employment of several contractors, each to perform a major function under direction of NASA staffs.
• Expansion of the LOC civil service staff.
LOC recommended the third solution, with 12 functional contractors.45 Earlier that month, Siepert and Brainerd Holmes had discussed the launch center's need for support services with Robert Seamans, NASA's Associate Administrator. Seamans turned down an Air Force proposal to handle the entire service support through its range contractor, Pan American. Seamans wanted to spread contracts and did not want to increase civil service hirings. He favored the use of four or five prime contractors.
One week after the LOC staff report, Debus and Siepert met with Holmes in Washington. LOC recommended seven contracts with a separate food service contract handled by the NASA Employees' Exchange. Holmes thought seven contracts were too many for effective management and directed that LOC find a way to compress these into four. He did agree, after some discussion, that the food service could be a separate contract under the Exchange. LOC submitted a revised proposal on 7 May including a request that "LOC be authorized to initiate appropriate action to obtain contractor services. . . , grouped into four prime areas of activity. . . ." Holmes approved it two weeks later. 46
As a temporary measure, NASA asked the Air Force for limited Merritt Island support services on a reimbursable basis. This was formalized as part of an interim agreement on management responsibilities signed by Dr. Debus and General Davis on 10 May 1963. Two weeks later, NASA Headquarters announced contract plans for more than 20 support functions in the four areas of management, communications, base support, and launch support. The prime contractors would be required to subcontract a substantial portion of the work to small firms.47
LOC's procurement office started work on one contract a week before the formal announcement. A request for proposals on the operation and maintenance of the communications system was issued 17 May. Contractor interest was heavy, but a disagreement between LOC and Southern Bell Telephone Company about interconnection points between the internal communication system and the Bell circuits delayed contract negotiations for over a month. Finally Southern Bell agreed to provide normal internal business and administrative telephone service (excepting service in hazardous or operationally critical areas). NASA Headquarters decided that source evaluation boards were necessary. Fourteen companies responded to LOC's second request for proposals. Administrator Webb narrowed the field to three firms, following an evaluation board presentation on 3 October. R.C.A. Service Company won and began work in December, although execution of the cost-plus-award-fee contract was delayed until mid-January
Procurement action on the other three support contracts proceeded concurrently. A January 1964 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract gave Ling-Temco-Vought responsibility for photographic support, technical information, a field printing plant, and administrative automatic data processing. In February 1964 Trans World Airlines won the contract for supply, general maintenance, and utilities. In April, Bendix Field Engineering Corporation signed a contract for a variety of functions that included propellant services, precision shops, high-pressure-gas converter and compressor operations, cryogenic-equipment cleaning, spacecraft servicing facilities, and the operation of the crawler.49
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