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GAO: NASA Should Fully Implement Earned Value Management to Reduce Acquisition Risk

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 19-Nov-2012
Updated: 19-Nov-2012 03:46 PM

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report today recommending that NASA fully implement earned value management (EVM), which it calls "an important tool that could help reduce acquisition risk."

Noting that many NASA projects experience cost overruns and schedule slips, GAO assessed how NASA is implementing EVM in 10 major projects to improve its acquisition practices.   Although it found that NASA has undertaken several initiatives to improve its use of EVM, cultural challenges are impeding its effective utilization.  "Traditionally, NASA's culture has focused on managing science and engineering challenges and not on monitoring cost and schedule data....As a result several [NASA] representatives said this [EVM] information has not been valued across the agency."   A lack of NASA personnel skilled in analyzing EVM data is cited as another obstacle.

GAO made four recommendations to move NASA forward in implementing EVM:

  • "implement a time frame for requiring new spaceflight projects to implement its new EVM system";
  • "conduct an EVM skills gap assessment";
  • "develop a change management plan for EVM"; and
  • "strengthen its EVM requirements by requiring projects to implement formal EVM surveillance."


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