NASA has hired pest control! Woohoo!

By Phil Plait | September 2, 2008 2:57 pm

I get email…



CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA has selected S.C. Jones Services, Inc., of Dillwyn, Va., to provide grounds maintenance and pest control services at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

The new firm-fixed price contract begins on Oct. 1, 2008. It has a one-year base period and four, one-year option periods. The maximum value of the contract is approximately $13.5 million.

S.C. Jones Services will provide grounds maintenance and pest control services in support of all areas of Kennedy.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Pest control and lawn maintenance are important. Seriously — have you experienced the bugs in Florida? The ants there are amazingly invasive. I suspect alligators may be considered a pest, too…* But somehow a press release on those contracts seems a little weird. Maybe there is some contractual thing going on here, or a government law saying they must announce all contracts over some value.

Well, whatever. I for one welcome our new ant-control overlords.

*Hmmm, tourists may be included in this category as well.


Comments (45)

  1. Timothy from Boulder

    Don’t know what constitutes pest control, but running across a wild pig when walking between buildings at 2 a.m. is disconcerting, if not downright frightening … especially when I thought it was just a dog, and the person I was with froze and dashed back into the building. She says they attack. We didn’t stay to find out.

  2. Davidlpf

    Does this contract cover Bart Sibrel.

  3. Wildride
  4. Robert Krendik

    They now just did this?

  5. Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Two of the contractors were accidentally sent into space. The only contact was a faint, shouted “I said ‘lunch’, not ‘launch’!”

  6. Kevin

    Pest Control should cover the “Moon Hoaxers” and any of the other conspiracy theory nutjobs/idiots/dillholes, etc.

  7. Hugo

    Ah, remember the good old days when even the most mundane news (“Grissom Eats Corned Beef Sandwich In Space”) about NASA was ranted and raved about by the media?

    No? Me neither. I was born twenty years too late :P.

  8. Nentuaby

    At a maximum 13.5 million dollars, that does seem worth at least shooting out a quick memo, no? It’s not like it’s much effort to do so. Better to let a five minute writing job coast off, ignored, into the informational cosmos than let somebody who has some improbable interest in the matter make a future claim that you spent that nifty chunk of change “in secret.”

  9. Hannes
  10. It’s about time the did something about those gawd-awful manatees.


  11. James

    Do post now won’t appear in full in rss readers ?

    If the answer is yes (i hope not), I just wanted to say “good luck and thanks for all the fish”


  12. OnSolThree

    This doesn’t apply to moon hoaxers- they hire out Buzz Aldrin to kick their tails :)

  13. zer0

    I wish more government bodies would publish every little thing they spend money on like this. Now $13.5M isn’t “little” but I do like how open the books are in this case.

  14. We went to visit Kennedy Space Center for my 28th birthday and the clouds of bugs we drove through was just unbelievable. I’d say they’ve been in need of some pest control for some time now..

  15. $13.5 million? We’re not talking about a little man on a drive-on mower, here, are we?

  16. I wonder how much they spend on those little cakes they put in the urinal?

    Well, I do….

  17. Todd W.


    Nope. The lawncare will be performed by a herd of sheep. Pest control is a combination of terriers and snipers. The rest of the money is to be used for alcohol…as a disinfectant, of course.

    Realistically speaking, though, $13.5 million is not a great amount of money for a government agency.

  18. The cost for pest control in the VAB alone must be…. wait for it…. wait for it… astronomical!

  19. Sorry, this is OT: Why are the “blurbs” via rss suddenly so short? I get maybe a few sentences, but that’s it, no pix, nothin’. Anyone else have this problem?

    On topic: I would imagine tenting the assembly building for termites would be a tad on the expensive side…

  20. This might be the wrong place for this, but why did your RSS feed change to only showing blurbs? That’s the most annoying thing a blog owner can do to their RSS readers.

    I guess I’ll just have to stop reading BA.

  21. Kne

    From Dillwyn, VA?

    That’s a town of like 1000 people, just a few miles from where I live. Tiny town, though it is the biggest in our county. Big news recently was that we were finally getting a McDonalds!

    This is a big contract for a business in our rural county.

    The odd thing I see about this is that Dillwyn is 766 miles and four states away from Cape Canaveral.

  22. Bart

    It’s not especially useful to threaten to stop taking the free samples because the packages have gotten smaller.

    However, I must agree on the annoyance factor, particularly since it appears to have been retroactively applied to old postings as far back as August 28 that I previously read in full.

    On the actual thread – it’s not uncommon for a contract agreement of this sort to include issuing a joint press release so that the contractor can use it for publicity. In this case, though, I would be inclined to suspect there is an announcement required by law.

  23. Monkey

    Pest control is important?!? Lawn maintenance is important?!? Suburbanite law credibility may be at stake in many places, but I would argue that it is not important. Seriously.


    13 mil…hmmm…..

  24. Phy


  25. The RSS feed has been set to only send out the first few lines of the post. A lot of hosted blogs do this, and the Hive Overmind wanted to test it out.

  26. Daniel

    Yea it is kind of an odd announcement. I actually agree with NASA on this, We dont want fires started from some awry experimental rocket crash landing in the preserve.

  27. Something is odd here, Phil. As you know I’m in Charlottesville, VA, just up the road from Dillwyn. I’ve never heard of these guys and Dillwyn is small to say the least! Servicing a contract like this would involve up to hundreds of guys and lawnmowers, chemical spray trucks, hedge clippers, all that sort of stuff. I Googled the company name and got 3329 Rockmill Rd. as the street address. I entered this into Google Maps and came up empty! Another Google entry on the company name is this:

    These guys are very connected and very secretive… Fishy… Half a billion dollars in 8 years… I suppose if I had that kinda dough I’d hide out too. Darn nosy neighbors…
    A bit more Googling indicates that the HQ of the company is in Yorktown and the Dillwyn location is a branch office of some sort.

    More Googling on the new address goes back to the government contracts guys:

    Now we’re talking about 18 billion in 8 years! This is some serious coin! The Yorktown address does point to a commercial strip, though, so it may not be as fishy as it seemed when the Dillwyn address led nowhere…
    Rich in Charlottesville

  28. Nope. The lawncare will be performed by a herd of sheep.

    And a barbecue will be held after every launch!

  29. Chew

    Which one’s the queen?

  30. Tyler Durden

    And in related news NASA has announced that it will be paying $20 million to the janitorial staff.

    Your tax dollars at work.

  31. Funny, I’ve been getting NASA press releases for years, and have wondered the exact same thing. It’s just weird.

    @Monkey: Think pest control isn’t important? Please visit Cape Canaveral in summertime!

  32. Monkey

    @Jane: Buy me a plane ticket and ill test that one out :)

    Just sayin, is all….”pest” is subjective. I like me dandelions in me yard, neighbour likes to call them weeds and spit at them with hate. Less poison on the ground, the better. Now, if the itty bitty critters are biting my arm and legs as I try to read by the campfire….go get them!!

  33. IVAN3MAN

    Talking of pesky tourists… CLICK

  34. Rebel

    I assume that Florida is similar to Texas, lots of mosquitoes. Especially after heavy rainstorms.

    When you have been bitten multiple times in just a few minutes, and itch all over–you are happy with whatever they do to eliminate those pesky bugs.

  35. redx

    Todd W. Says:

    “Nope. The lawncare will be performed by a herd of sheep. Pest control is a combination of terriers and snipers. The rest of the money is to be used for alcohol‚Ķas a disinfectant, of course.”

    Sounds about right for the mosquitoes, though I think they’d have better luck using multi-barreled AAA or regular passes with napalm.

    The place is fairly huge, and you can’t really just let the grass grow or you will start getting nasty animals moving in. It’s a destination for tourists, the press and diplomats. Huge place. The contract for janitorial/maintenance contract is probably around $20 mil. They’ve got an awful lot of bathrooms to clean and toilets to scrub. You need clearance and special training(due to the presence of hazardous materials) to scrub some of those toilets(or preform any other sort of work at all in a lot of areas) too.

    Richard Drumm: Between the two of us, someone sucks at counting decimal places. I’m almost totally sure $17,579,821 is rather far from even one billion dollars, and I don’t see anything that would imply there should be extra zeros there. Also most of the companies subcontract out their work, it’s not too surprising that you aren’t seeing some sprawling campus filled with lawnmowers nowhere remotely near where they will end up being used.

  36. Gary Ansorge

    Ahhh, for the good old days of DDT,,,

    I abhor mosquitos. Had malaria as a kid. Not a fun disease,,,

    Wild pigs. GOOD barbecue. They’re so much better when they’re range fed,,,

    SO, $17.5 million for grounds maintenance? In Georgia, due to the exceptional economic projections of the state gov.,(with their $600 million shortfall) we’re now allowed(in the state parks) to cut grass only three feet from the road. It’s supposed to save gas. I suppose next year, when the state income is even more in arrears, we’ll have to cut the grass by hand,,,

    Gary 7

  37. !AstralProjectile

    Are all the poisonous snakes in the culverts considered pests, or are they juat there to keep some teenage stowaway from getting on a moonlaunch? Are the snakes actually there, or are the warning signs just a ruse? ūüėČ

  38. Tyler Durden:

    And in related news NASA has announced that it will be paying $20 million to the janitorial staff.
    Your tax dollars at work.

    I assume that the dollar amount you quote was just made up. But in reference to your comment which implies you feel such money would be wasted:
    How much do you think should be spent on janitorial staff for a place where 1,500 people work, and 1.5 million people visit each year?

  39. Grr… And that’ll teach me to not double check that I have the correct close tags before clicking “submit”. :-(

    Well, at least we’re not going to see “everything is italics” because of it. :-)

  40. Jeff

    Consider the shortened blog blurb officially hated!

    Just don’t have time to go to all the sites daily, and once per story.

  41. @redx
    Eep! :blush: Yer right! Thanks for the correction!

  42. Ray Wagner

    The actual contract award announcement is published in Federal Business Opportunities at
    Note that award publication is NOT a press release but a legal requirement for a Federal agency contract award. The company may have published a press release — most companies (large or small) do when they get a contract award.
    BTW, if you want to see where your tax dollars go, read through just a day’s worth of contracting opportunties announced on FBO.

  43. Matthew Allain

    @Ray Wagner

    Yup, Ray’s got the details right. As an employee of a social policy research contractor who does 95% or so of our business with the federal government, I can corroborate that the Federal Acquisition Regulations require award announcements of a certain size to be posted on FedBizOpps, for public consumption.

    One of my oh-so-envious tasks each day is to wade through large sections of that site to find prospects for new work in the government’s requests for proposal announcements.

    Now, why NASA felt the need for a press release? No clue. My guess is that Phil’s hunch is mostly correct. NASA probably has a policy of announcing awards over a certain dollar amount.

    P.S. – I, too, recommend reading FedBizOpps every once in a while (you can find a digest version at, also). My favorite posting in the five years I’ve been doing this? A request by a parks administration for an animatronic Smoky the Bear.

  44. Debra

    Isn’t NASA a wildlife preserve???
    “Pest control” seems oxymoronic to me!!!

  45. Tyler Durden

    ” I assume that the dollar amount you quote was just made up. But in reference to your comment which implies you feel such money would be wasted:
    How much do you think should be spent on janitorial staff for a place where 1,500 people work, and 1.5 million people visit each year?”

    Let’s say you hire 100 janitors for the space center, at an average of $50,000 a year salary per janitor (well above the average for that profession.)

    That equals $5 million. And seems like overkill, but I guess better safe than sorry.

    Now add in an extra say $2 million for the higher salaries of supervisors to the janitorial staff, and administrative costs. That equals a total of $7 million.

    But because NASA is overseen by the government you can automatically take that number and multiply by three. The actual cost for the janitorial staff will end up being $21 million per year due to inefficiency and nepotism.


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