Friday, April 30, 2010

German Government Defy European Space Agency

The German government has informed the European Space Agency (ESA) in writing that it will remain opposed to the award of a $1.7 billion meteorological satellite contract to a French-led consortium regardless of the findings of an independent review board tasked to audit the contract procedures, according to European government and industry officials.

The apparent hardening of Germany’s position with respect to the six-satellite Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) contract makes it less likely that ESA and its MTG partner, the Eumetsat meteorological satellite organisation, will be able to move forward on the program in the coming weeks.

The 18-nation ESA had hoped that German reservations about the MTG contract would abate once a six-member Procurement Review Board rendered its conclusions April 30. The German argument is centred on the fact that although the bid was led by Astrium’s German division, it was not selected and there are claims of unfair and preferential treatment being given to the French bid, by Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA director general.

The board of enquiry was hired to shed light on the MTG bid-evaluation process, and to clear the air of suspicion that had surrounded the project and vendor selection process, for months.

The procurement review team began work just before Eumetsat’s 26 member nations met March 26 to begin the year-long MTG implementation process but Germany, joined by Portugal, declined to approve the project at the Eumetsat meeting because of procedural and economic discrepancies.

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