GAO Issues Pair of Reports on NASA Program Management Challenges

GAO Issues Pair of Reports on NASA Program Management Challenges

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a pair of reports today about acqusition and management challenges at NASA. One is the third annual report to Congress on “NASA: Assessments of Selected Large Scale Projects,” and the other is a letter to NASA Administrator Bolden identifying “several issues that merit your management attenion.”

The report assesses 21 NASA projects costing a total of more than $68 billion. GAO found that of the 16 programs in that set where cost and schedule baselines had been established, development costs had an average growth of 14.6 percent and schedules slipped by an average of eight months. The congressional watchdog agency noted, however, that the cost growth figure was deceptive because it did not include cost growth incurred before NASA was required to report baselines to Congress. Thirteen projects that GAO studied over the past three years “that established baselines prior to 2009 experienced an average development cost growth of almost 55 percent,” the report says. It adds that those figures do not include cost growth that is likely to be experienced on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

The letter to Bolden stresses that today’s fiscal environment means that difficult choices will have to be made, and that NASA’s projects “frequently are approved without evidence of a sound business case.” The letter recommends that NASA —

“(1) provide increased transparency into project costs to the Congress to conduct oversight and ensure earlier accountability and (2) develop a common set of measurable and proven criteria to assess the design stability of projects before proceeding into later phases of development.”

The report acknowledges that NASA is implementing a new cost estimation tool, the Joint Cost and Schedule Confidence Level, and that the agency “continues to take positive steps, but it will be some time before the impact of its efforts can be measured.”

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.