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GAO Applauds NASA Progress in Program Management

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 17-Apr-2013
Updated: 17-Apr-2013 06:58 PM

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) applauded NASA's progress in reforming its management of major programs in a report released today.  The congressional watchdog agency said that, excluding the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), cost growth and schedule delays have decreased to about one third of their 2009 levels.

GAO excluded JWST because it has a "disproportionate effect" on the portfolio of programs NASA manages.  "Including the JWST in the calculation would increase the 2013 portfolio's average development cost from 3.9 percent to 46.4 percent and would double the average launch delay, from 4 to 8 months and obscure the progress the rest of the portfolio has made toward maintaining cost and schedule baselines," the report says.

In this fifth review of NASA's program management challenges, GAO looked at 18 NASA projects with an estimated life-cycle cost exceeding $250 million.  It did not make any recommendations, but highlighted areas where NASA leadership needs to remain vigilant:

  • managing competing priorities within the context of constrained budgets
  • estimating costs associated with large-scale projects
  • improving overall cost and schedule estimates, and
  • using consistent and proven design stability metrics

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