GAO Not Convinced by NASA's Latest JWST Cost Estimate
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is giving NASA credit for taking steps in the right direction, but remains unconvinced that the most recent cost estimate is reliable.
In a report released today, GAO assessed the latest cost estimate -- $8 billion for development plus $800 million for operations, for a total life cycle cost of $8.8 billion -- against four characteristics that GAO seeks: comprehensive, well documented, accurate and credible. NASA's estimate meets the first of those "substantially," but the other three only "partially," GAO concluded.
One criticism is that NASA "did not perform a sensitivity analysis that would have identified key drivers of costs, such as workforce size," GAO said. GAO is also worried about schedule reserves. Whle project officials say there are 14 months of reserve, which meets Goddard's requirements, GAO points out that only 7 of those months are likely to be available for the last three of five integration and test efforts when problems historically pop up.
GAO recommends that the NASA Administrator direct JWST officials to do the following:
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