This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-05-230 
entitled 'Space Shuttle: Actions Needed to Better Position NASA to 
Sustain Its Workforce through Retirement' which was released on March 
24, 2005. 

This text file was formatted by the U.S. Government Accountability 
Office (GAO) to be accessible to users with visual impairments, as part 
of a longer term project to improve GAO products' accessibility. Every 
attempt has been made to maintain the structural and data integrity of 
the original printed product. Accessibility features, such as text 
descriptions of tables, consecutively numbered footnotes placed at the 
end of the file, and the text of agency comment letters, are provided 
but may not exactly duplicate the presentation or format of the printed 
version. The portable document format (PDF) file is an exact electronic 
replica of the printed version. We welcome your feedback. Please E-mail 
your comments regarding the contents or accessibility features of this 
document to Webmaster@gao.gov. 

This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright 
protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and distributed 
in its entirety without further permission from GAO. Because this work 
may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the 
copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this 
material separately. 

Report to Congressional Requesters:

United States Government Accountability Office:

GAO:

March 2005:

Space Shuttle:

Actions Needed to Better Position NASA to Sustain Its Workforce through 
Retirement:

GAO-05-230:

GAO Highlights:

Highlights of GAO-05-230, a report to congressional requesters:

Why GAO Did This Study:

The President's vision for space exploration (Vision) directs the 
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to retire the 
space shuttle following completion of the International Space Station, 
planned for the end of the decade. The retirement process will last 
several years and impact thousands of critically skilled NASA civil 
service and contractor employees that support the program. Key to 
implementing the Vision is NASA's ability to sustain this workforce to 
support safe space shuttle operations through retirement. 

Because of the potential workforce issues that could affect the safety 
and effectiveness of operations through the space shuttle's retirement, 
GAO was asked to identify (1) the progress of efforts to develop a 
strategy for sustaining the space shuttle workforce through retirement 
and (2) factors that may have impeded these efforts. 

What GAO Found:

The Space Shuttle Program has made limited progress toward developing a 
detailed long-term strategy for sustaining its workforce through the 
space shuttle's retirement. The program has taken preliminary steps, 
including identifying the lessons learned from the retirement of 
programs comparable to the space shuttle, such as the Air Force Titan 
IV Rocket Program, to assist in its workforce planning efforts. Other 
efforts have been initiated or are planned, such as enlisting the help 
of human capital experts and revising the acquisition strategy for 
updating the space shuttle's propulsion system prime contracts; 
however, actions taken thus far have been limited. NASA's prime 
contractor for space shuttle operations has also taken some preliminary 
steps to begin to prepare for the impact of the space shuttle's 
retirement on its workforce, such as working with a consulting firm to 
conduct a comprehensive study of its workforce. However, its ability to 
progress with these efforts is reliant on NASA making decisions that 
impact contractor requirements through the remainder of the program. 
Making progress toward developing a detailed strategy, however, will be 
important given the potential impact that workforce problems would have 
on NASA-wide goals. For example, a delay to the space shuttle's 
schedule due to workforce problems would delay the agency's ability to 
proceed with space exploration activities. NASA and its prime 
contractor for space shuttle operations have already indicated that 
they could face challenges sustaining their critically skilled 
workforces if a career path beyond the space shuttle's retirement is 
not apparent. In addition, governmentwide fiscal realities call into 
question whether funding will be available to support the use of 
incentives, such as retention bonuses, that could help NASA sustain its 
space shuttle workforce. 

Several factors hamper the Space Shuttle Program's ability to develop a 
detailed long-term strategy to sustain the critically skilled workforce 
necessary to support safe space shuttle operations through retirement. 
For example, because of the program's near-term focus on returning the 
space shuttle to flight, other efforts, such as assessing hardware and 
facility needs that will ultimately aid the program in determining 
workforce requirements, are being delayed. In addition, program 
officials indicated that they are faced with uncertainties regarding 
the implementation of future aspects of the Vision and lack the 
requirements needed on which to base their workforce planning efforts. 
Despite these factors, our prior work on strategic workforce planning 
has shown that there are steps, such as scenario planning, that 
successful organizations take to better position themselves to address 
future workforce needs. 

What GAO Recommends:

GAO is recommending that NASA take steps aimed at better positioning 
the agency to sustain a critically skilled space shuttle workforce 
through retirement. In particular, we are recommending that the Space 
Shuttle Program begin identifying its future workforce needs based upon 
various future scenarios the program could face. In commenting on a 
draft of this report, NASA concurred with our recommendation. 

www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-05-230. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact Allen Li at (202) 512-
4841 or lia@gao.gov. 

[End of section]

Contents:

Letter:

Results in Brief:

Background:

Progress toward Developing a Strategy to Sustain the Space Shuttle 
Workforce Is Limited:

Several Factors Have Impeded Efforts to Develop a Long-Term Strategy to 
Sustain a Critically Skilled Space Shuttle Workforce:

Conclusions:

Recommendation for Executive Action:

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation:

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology:

Appendix II: Summary of NASA Reports on Lessons Learned Applicable to 
the Space Shuttle Program:

Appendix III: Comments from the National Aeronautics and Space 
Administration:

Appendix IV: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments:

GAO Contact:

Staff Acknowledgments:

Table:

Table 1: Summary of NASA Reports on Lessons Learned Applicable to the 
Space Shuttle Program:

Figures:

Figure 1: Estimated Timeline for the Process of Retiring NASA's Space 
Shuttle:

Figure 2: NASA Space Operations Centers:

Abbreviations:

GPRA: Government Performance and Results Act:
ISS: International Space Station: 
JSC: Johnson Space Center: 
KSC: Kennedy Space Center: 
MSFC: Marshall Space Flight Center: 
NAPA: National Academy of Public Administration: 
NASA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration: 
SFOC: Space Flight Operations Contract:

United States Government Accountability Office:

Washington, DC 20548:

March 9, 2005:

The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye: 
Co-Chairman: 
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation:
United States Senate:

The Honorable John McCain:
United States Senate:

On January 14, 2004, the President articulated a new vision for space 
exploration (Vision) for the National Aeronautics and Space 
Administration (NASA). Part of the Vision includes the goal of retiring 
the space shuttle following completion of the International Space 
Station (ISS), planned for the end of the decade.[Footnote 1] The space 
shuttle, NASA's largest individual program,[Footnote 2] is an essential 
element of NASA's ability to implement this Vision, because it is the 
only launch system presently capable of transporting the remaining 
components necessary to complete assembly of the ISS. NASA currently 
projects that it will need to conduct an estimated 28 flights over the 
next 5 to 6 years to complete assembly of and provide support to the 
ISS. However, because of the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia 
and its crew in February 2003, NASA will do so with an overriding focus 
on ensuring safety of operations.[Footnote 3]

The safety of the space shuttle is largely contingent on NASA's ability 
to sustain the critically skilled workforce necessary to support space 
shuttle operations through retirement. Moving forward, this will be a 
concern, as the process of retiring the space shuttle will last several 
years and impact thousands of critically skilled NASA civil service and 
contractor employees that support the program. This workforce has been 
the focus of many reviews[Footnote 4] in the past, which have 
highlighted significant issues concerning the depth of critical skills 
available to the program and other cultural, organizational, and safety 
issues that impact the program's ability to safely support space 
shuttle operations. These reviews recommended, among other things, that 
NASA assess the quantity and quality of its space shuttle workforce in 
terms of experience and special skills; transform its culture; and take 
steps to strengthen its safety organization. 

As agreed with your offices, we reviewed the status of NASA's efforts 
to position itself to sustain the critically skilled space shuttle 
workforce necessary to support space shuttle operations through 
retirement. Specifically, we identified (1) the progress of NASA's 
efforts to develop a strategy for sustaining a critically skilled space 
shuttle workforce through retirement and (2) factors that may have 
impeded these efforts. 

To perform our work, we interviewed various NASA officials, including 
Space Shuttle Program, Human Resources, and Safety officials. We 
obtained and analyzed NASA documents related to human capital 
management, such as human capital plans, policies and procedures for 
workforce planning, and information on NASA's workforce analysis tools. 
Further, we obtained and reviewed Space Shuttle Program documents 
related to the program's retirement, such as its lessons learned 
reports. In addition, we interviewed officials from NASA's prime 
contractor for space shuttle operations, United Space Alliance, and 
obtained and reviewed contractor documents related to its workforce and 
support of space shuttle operations. We also gathered information from 
human capital experts and reviewed GAO human capital reports and 
guidance regarding strategic workforce planning. Complete details of 
our scope and methodology can be found in appendix I. We performed our 
work from April 2004 to March 2005 in accordance with generally 
accepted government auditing standards. 

Results in Brief:

The Space Shuttle Program has made limited progress toward developing a 
detailed long-term strategy for sustaining its workforce through the 
space shuttle's retirement. The program has taken preliminary steps, 
including identifying the lessons learned from the retirement of 
programs comparable to the space shuttle, such as the Air Force Titan 
IV Rocket Program, to assist in its workforce planning efforts. Other 
efforts have been initiated or are planned, such as enlisting the help 
of human capital experts and revising the acquisition strategy for 
updating the space shuttle's propulsion system prime contracts; 
however, actions taken thus far have been limited. United Space 
Alliance has taken some preliminary steps begin to prepare for the 
impact of the space shuttle's retirement on its workforce, such as 
working with a consulting firm to conduct a comprehensive study of its 
workforce. However, its ability to progress with these efforts is 
reliant on NASA making decisions that impact contractor requirements 
through the remainder of the program. Making progress toward developing 
a detailed strategy, however, will be important given the potential 
impact that workforce problems would have on NASA-wide goals. For 
example, a delay to the space shuttle's schedule due to workforce 
problems would delay NASA's ability to proceed with space exploration 
activities. NASA and United Space Alliance have already indicated that 
they could face difficulty in sustaining their critically skilled 
workforces if a career path beyond the space shuttle's retirement is 
not apparent to employees. In addition, governmentwide fiscal realities 
call into question whether funding will be available to support the use 
of incentives, such as retention bonuses, that could help NASA sustain 
its space shuttle workforce. 

Several factors hamper the Space Shuttle Program's ability to develop a 
detailed long-term strategy to sustain the critically skilled workforce 
necessary to support safe space shuttle operations through retirement. 
For example, because of the program's near-term focus on returning the 
space shuttle to flight, other efforts, such as assessing hardware and 
facility needs that will ultimately aid the program in determining 
workforce requirements, are being delayed. In addition, program 
officials indicated that they are faced with uncertainties regarding 
the implementation of future aspects of the Vision and lack the 
requirements needed on which to base their workforce planning efforts. 
Despite these factors, our prior work on strategic workforce planning 
has shown that there are steps, such as scenario planning, that 
successful organizations take to better position themselves to address 
future workforce needs. 

In this report, we are recommending that NASA take steps aimed at 
better positioning the Space Shuttle Program to sustain a critically 
skilled workforce through retirement. In particular, we are 
recommending that the Space Shuttle Program begin identifying its 
future workforce needs based upon various future scenarios the program 
could face. In written and oral comments on a draft of this report, 
NASA concurred with our findings, conclusions, and recommendation. 

Background:

Prior to retiring the program, NASA will need to first return the space 
shuttle to flight[Footnote 5] and execute the remaining missions needed 
to complete assembly of and provide support for the ISS. At the same 
time, NASA will need to begin the process of closing out or 
transitioning to other NASA programs the space shuttle's assets, such 
as its workforce, hardware, and facilities, which are no longer needed 
to support the program. The process of closing out or transitioning the 
program's assets will extend well beyond the space shuttle's final 
flight (see fig. 1). 

Figure 1: Estimated Timeline for the Process of Retiring NASA's Space 
Shuttle:

[See PDF for image]

[A] The planning window for the first flight is May 12 through June 3, 
2005. The planning window for the second flight is July 10 through 
August 2, 2005. 

[End of figure]

Retiring the space shuttle and, in the larger context, implementing the 
Vision, will require that the Space Shuttle Program rely on its most 
important asset--its workforce. The space shuttle workforce consists of 
approximately 2,000 civil service[Footnote 6] and 15,600 prime 
contractor[Footnote 7] personnel, including a large number of engineers 
and scientists. In addition to these personnel, there are a large 
number of critical, lower level subcontractors and suppliers throughout 
the United States who support the program. The program's workforce is 
responsible for conducting such things as space shuttle payload 
processing, mission planning and control, ground operations, and for 
managing the space shuttle's propulsions systems. While each of the 
NASA centers support the Space Shuttle Program to some degree, the vast 
majority of this workforce is located at three of NASA's Space 
Operations Centers--Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Center (KSC), 
and Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) (see fig. 2). 

Figure 2: NASA Space Operations Centers:

[See PDF for image]

[End of figure]

The space shuttle workforce and NASA's human capital management has 
been the subject of many GAO[Footnote 8] and other reviews[Footnote 9] 
in the past. These reviews showed that the space shuttle workforce had 
suffered from agency downsizing in the mid 1990s and that NASA faced 
challenges recruiting and training new employees, sufficiently staffing 
its workforce with qualified workers, and dealing with an aging 
workforce and signs of overwork and fatigue in its remaining workforce. 
In the past, NASA officials said that these challenges posed 
significant flight safety risks for the program. While the Space 
Shuttle Program had taken some steps to address these issues, 
sustaining critical skills in many key areas such as subsystems 
engineering remained a problem. In addition, in 2003 the Columbia 
Accident Investigation Board noted that years of workforce reductions 
and outsourcing negatively impacted NASA's experience and systems 
knowledge base. Further, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board 
noted that safety and mission assurance personnel were eliminated and 
careers in safety lost organizational prestige. Additional studies 
highlighted recent trends affecting the science and engineering labor 
pool from which employers like NASA draw from. For example, the 
National Science Board reported in 2004 that worldwide competition for 
individuals with science and engineering skills was increasing, while 
the potential pool of individuals with these skills was 
decreasing.[Footnote 10] NASA's former Administrator has testified that 
this situation poses a significant challenge to the agency's ability to 
maintain a world-class workforce, because it relies on a highly 
educated and broad science and engineering workforce to accomplish its 
mission. 

Over the past few years, GAO and others in the federal government have 
underscored the importance of human capital management and strategic 
workforce planning. For example, we designated strategic human capital 
management as a governmentwide, high-risk area in 2001, 2003, and 2005, 
and continue to highlight it as a major management challenge 
specifically for NASA.[Footnote 11] Strategic Management of Human 
Capital was also placed at the top of the President's Management 
Agenda,[Footnote 12] and the Office of Management and Budget and Office 
of Personnel Management have made efforts to improve governmentwide 
human capital management and strategic workforce planning.[Footnote 13] 
Recognizing the need for guidance related to strategic human capital 
management, GAO has issued various reports that outline a strategic 
human capital approach and provided tools, such as a Model of Strategic 
Human Capital Management and Human Capital Self Assessment Checklist 
for Agency Leaders,[Footnote 14] that agencies can use to aid in 
addressing this challenge. 

In response to an increased focus governmentwide on strategic human 
capital management, NASA has taken several steps to improve its human 
capital management. These include steps such as devising an agencywide 
strategic human capital plan, developing workforce analysis tools to 
assist in identifying critical skills needs, and requesting and 
receiving additional human capital flexibilities to help the agency 
compete successfully with the private sector in attracting and 
retaining employees and to reshape and redeploy its workforce to 
support its mission.[Footnote 15]

GAO's prior work on strategic human capital management has shown that 
workforce planning is needed to ensure that the right people with the 
right skills are in the right place at the right time. Workforce 
planning addresses two critical needs: (1) aligning an organization's 
human capital program with its current and emerging mission and 
programmatic goals and (2) developing long-term strategies for 
acquiring, developing, and retaining staff to achieve programmatic 
goals. Although approaches to such planning may vary according to an 
organization's specific needs and mission, our work suggests that, 
irrespective of the context in which workforce planning is done, such a 
process should address five key elements. These include (1) involving 
top management, employees, and other stakeholders in developing, 
communicating, and implementing the strategic workforce plan; (2) 
determining the critical skills and competencies that will be needed to 
achieve the future programmatic results; (3) developing strategies 
tailored to address critical skills and competency gaps that need 
attention; (4) building the capability needed to address 
administrative, educational, and other requirements important to 
supporting workforce strategies; and (5) monitoring and evaluating the 
agency's progress toward its human capital goals and the contribution 
that human capital results have made toward achieving programmatic 
goals. 

Progress toward Developing a Strategy to Sustain the Space Shuttle 
Workforce Is Limited:

The Space Shuttle Program has made limited progress toward developing a 
detailed long-term strategy for sustaining its workforce through the 
space shuttle's retirement. While NASA recognizes the importance of 
having in place a strategy for sustaining a critically skilled 
workforce to support the space shuttle's operations, it has only taken 
preliminary steps, such as identifying lessons learned from the 
retirement of programs comparable to the space shuttle, to do so. Other 
efforts have been initiated or are planned, such as enlisting the help 
of human capital experts and revising the acquisition strategy to 
update the space shuttle's propulsion system prime contracts; however, 
actions taken thus far have been limited. NASA's prime contractor for 
space shuttle operations has also taken some preliminary steps, but its 
ability to progress with these efforts is reliant on NASA making 
decisions that impact contractor requirements through the remainder of 
the program. Making progress toward developing a detailed strategy, 
however, will be important given the potential impact that workforce 
problems would have on NASA-wide goals. 

The Space Shuttle Program Has Taken Preliminary Steps toward Developing 
a Strategy for Sustaining a Critically Skilled Workforce:

To begin its planning efforts for the space shuttle's retirement, the 
program identified the lessons learned from the retirement of programs 
comparable to the space shuttle, such as the Air Force Titan IV Rocket 
Program, the Navy Base Realignment and Closure activity, and the NASA 
Industrial Facility closure. Among other things, the lessons learned 
reports highlight the practices used by other programs when making 
personnel decisions, such as the importance of developing transition 
strategies and early retention planning to the success of the space 
shuttle's retirement. (See app. II for a summary of NASA's reports to 
date on the lessons learned that are applicable to the retirement of 
the space shuttle.) Program officials said that this preliminary effort 
is the first step in an approach they expect to take to plan for 
retiring the space shuttle. According to these officials, they plan to 
use the information collected from this preliminary effort to guide in 
the development of a management plan for retiring the space shuttle. 
This management plan is expected to include such things as the overall 
plan, processes, schedule, and roles and responsibilities related to 
retiring the space shuttle. To inform this management plan, the program 
expects sometime around mid-2005 to assess its hardware and facility 
needs through retirement to determine whether to maintain, closeout, or 
transition assets to other NASA programs--such as space exploration 
activities.[Footnote 16] Once these hardware and facility assessments 
have been completed, the program plans to conduct an assessment of its 
workforce needs. Officials said that they must understand the program's 
hardware and facility needs before they can conduct an assessment of 
its workforce needs through retirement. 

While Other Efforts Have Been Initiated or Are Planned, Limited Actions 
Have Been Taken:

In addition to the Space Shuttle Program's preliminary work to prepare 
for sustaining its workforce through retirement, the program has 
contracted with the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) to 
assist it in planning for the space shuttle's retirement and 
transitioning to future programs. Specifically, NAPA is to (1) 
benchmark the best practices of public and private sector organizations 
that have dealt with workforce issues resulting from the retirement, 
transition, or elimination of programs comparable to the space shuttle, 
such as in number of employees affected; (2) assess and review the 
workforce aspects of the program's retirement strategy throughout the 
course of its development to ensure that it is addressing the problem 
adequately; and (3) to the extent possible, assist the program in 
devising innovative strategies for mitigating the impact of the space 
shuttle's retirement on the workforce. According to NAPA officials, it 
has conducted preliminary benchmarking efforts and is awaiting further 
direction from NASA for its next steps with regard to this task. 
Although the additional tasks NAPA is to undertake have been 
identified, it has yet to undertake efforts associated with these 
tasks. Because NAPA will be reviewing NASA's management plan for 
retiring the space shuttle as it is developed, the majority of its 
efforts will not be undertaken until NASA begins to plan more earnestly 
for sustaining its critically skilled workforce through the program's 
retirement, which, according to NASA, will likely occur after the space 
shuttle's return to flight. 

In addition, because the Space Shuttle Program is heavily reliant on 
its contractor workforce to support the space shuttle's operations, 
NASA officials said that they could include provisions in future Space 
Shuttle Program contracts that require contractors to take steps to 
prepare for sustaining their workforces through the space shuttle's 
retirement. However, the program has yet to do so. For example, in 
September 2004 the Space Shuttle Program exercised the final 2-year 
option of its Space Flight Operations Contract (SFOC).[Footnote 17] At 
this point, NASA did not require that United Space Alliance take any 
steps to prepare for sustaining its workforce, such as by submitting a 
critical skills retention plan. A senior NASA official recognized the 
need for United Space Alliance to devise such a plan, and said that 
this type of requirement would likely be included as part of the new 
contract NASA intends to award to United Space Alliance in 2006, once 
workforce requirements for the remainder of the program have been 
determined. 

Separate from the SFOC, the Space Shuttle Propulsion Office at MSFC has 
begun devising an acquisition strategy for updating its propulsion 
system prime contracts to take into account the Vision's goal of 
retiring the space shuttle following completion of the ISS. Although at 
the time of our review this acquisition strategy was not yet complete, 
officials said that the updated contracts will likely include a 
requirement for the contractor to submit a critical skills retention 
plan. This plan would outline the strategies the contractor plans to 
implement to sustain the critical skills necessary to support the 
program through retirement. In addition, officials said that they could 
take advantage of the award fee[Footnote 18] provisions available in 
the space shuttle's propulsion prime contracts to incentivize 
contractors to put in place strategies for sustaining a critically 
skilled workforce through retirement and monitor their success in doing 
so. 

NASA's Prime Contractor for Space Shuttle Operations Has Taken 
Preliminary Steps to Prepare for the Space Shuttle's Retirement:

United Space Alliance has taken preliminary steps to begin to prepare 
for the space shuttle's retirement and its impact on the company's 
workforce. For example, the company has begun to define its critical 
skills needs to continue to support the Space Shuttle Program; has 
devised a communication plan; contracted with a human capital 
consulting firm to conduct a comprehensive study of its workforce; and 
continues to monitor indicators of employee morale and workforce 
stability. While these efforts are underway, contractor officials said 
that further efforts to prepare for the space shuttle's retirement and 
its impact on their workforce are on hold until NASA first makes 
decisions that impact the space shuttle's remaining flight schedule and 
thus the time frames for retiring the program and transitioning its 
assets. Once these decisions have been made and United Space Alliance's 
contract requirements have been defined, these officials said that they 
would then be able to proceed with their workforce planning efforts for 
the space shuttle's retirement, a process that will likely take 6 
months to complete. 

The Potential Impact of Workforce Problems and Other Challenges the 
Space Shuttle Program Faces Highlight the Need for Workforce Planning:

Making progress toward developing a detailed strategy for sustaining a 
critically skilled space shuttle workforce through the program's 
retirement will be important given the potential impact that workforce 
problems could have on NASA-wide goals. According to NASA officials, if 
the Space Shuttle Program faces difficulties in sustaining the 
necessary workforce, NASA-wide goals, such as implementing the Vision 
and proceeding with space exploration activities, could be impacted. 
For example, workforce problems could lead to a delay in flight 
certification for the space shuttle, which could potentially result in 
a delay to the program's overall flight schedule, thus compromising the 
goal of completing assembly of the ISS by 2010. In addition, officials 
said that space exploration activities could slip as much as 1 year for 
each year that the space shuttle's operations are extended because 
NASA's ability to progress with these activities is reliant on funding 
and assets that are expected to be transferred from the Space Shuttle 
Program to other NASA programs. 

One workforce issue that has already been identified that could impact 
the program's ability to support space shuttle operations through 
retirement is an inadequate safety workforce. For example, Safety and 
Mission Assurance Directorate officials at KSC indicated that they 
already face difficulties in maintaining a sufficient number of safety 
personnel to support the Space Shuttle Program. An analysis done by the 
Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate at KSC shows that it lacks an 
adequate number of employees to fully perform all of its required 
functions for the Space Shuttle Program, which increased due to 
additional safety requirements put in place following the Space Shuttle 
Columbia accident. Due to this analysis, some additional workforce was 
added to provide support in this area. Although the Safety and Mission 
Assurance Directorate now believes that it can meet its inspection 
schedule, officials said that should the Directorate be unable to 
complete all of its required inspections, they would deny the space 
shuttle's certification for flight readiness. This would delay the 
program's flight schedule. 

NASA officials told us they expect to face various challenges in 
sustaining the critically skilled workforce necessary to support the 
space shuttle's operations through its retirement, including retaining 
the current workforce, many of whom may want to participate in or will 
be needed to support future phases of implementing the Vision, and 
providing a transition path to other programs for the workforce that is 
needed to support the Space Shuttle Program through retirement. 
Additional challenges that could affect the program's ability to 
support space shuttle operations include:

* Impact on the prime contractor for space shuttle operations. United 
Space Alliance may not be able to offer a long-term career path to its 
employees beyond the space shuttle's final flight. This problem results 
from the company having been established specifically to perform ground 
and flight operations for the Space Shuttle Program. As such, its 
future following the space shuttle's retirement remains uncertain. 
Given this uncertainty, contractor officials stated that they will 
likely face difficulty recruiting and retaining employees to continue 
supporting the space shuttle as it nears retirement because of the 
perceived lack of long-term job security. In addition, they said that 
the lack of job security may be reflected in poor morale, inattention 
to details, errors, accidents, absences, and attrition. In addressing 
problems that may result from this challenge, United Space Alliance has 
the ability to outplace some employees who work with the Space Shuttle 
Program to its parent companies. However, contractor officials said 
that other steps it may have to take to address workforce issues, such 
as paying retention bonuses, are likely to require funding above normal 
levels. 

* Governmentwide budgetary constraints. Throughout the process of 
retiring the space shuttle, NASA, like other federal agencies, will 
have to contend with urgent challenges facing the federal budget that 
will put pressure on discretionary spending--such as investments in 
space programs--and require it to do more with fewer resources. As a 
result, the Space Shuttle Program's ability to make use of tools that 
require additional funding--such as certain aspects of NASA's new 
workforce flexibilities like recruitment or retention bonuses--may be 
limited. Further, GAO has reported that NASA has had difficulties in 
accurately estimating the costs of its programs.[Footnote 19] Given 
this, the agency may not be able to provide a sound and accurate 
business case to support the use of such tools. Workforce planning 
efforts that identify gaps in critical skills based upon expected 
future needs and support the use of strategies to address these gaps 
could provide the information needed to support a sound business case. 

Several Factors Have Impeded Efforts to Develop a Long-Term Strategy to 
Sustain a Critically Skilled Space Shuttle Workforce:

While the Space Shuttle Program is still in the early stages of 
planning for the program's retirement, its development of a detailed 
long-term strategy to sustain its future workforce is being hampered by 
several factors. These include (1) the program's primary near-term 
focus on returning the space shuttle to flight and (2) uncertainties 
with respect to implementing the Vision. Space Shuttle Program 
officials assert that these factors limit the steps they are able to 
take at this time to plan for the program's future workforce needs. 
However, our prior work on strategic workforce planning has shown that 
there are steps that successful organizations take to better position 
themselves to address future workforce needs, even when faced with 
uncertainties. 

Near-Term Focus on Returning the Space Shuttle to Flight Has Left 
Future Workforce Needs Unaddressed:

Since the Space Shuttle Columbia accident, the program has focused on 
its near-term goal of returning the space shuttle to flight. While this 
focus is understandable given the importance of the space shuttle's 
role in completing assembly of the ISS, it has led to the program 
delaying efforts to determine future workforce needs. For example, in 
developing the management plan for retiring the space shuttle, program 
officials said that the majority of the assessments the program is to 
complete to support decisions regarding whether to maintain, closeout, 
or transition the program's assets will not be undertaken until after 
the space shuttle has returned to flight. According to these officials, 
one reason for this delay is that personnel needed to conduct the 
assessments are currently focused on supporting return to flight 
activities. Because the workforce assessment will not be conducted 
until after the program determines its hardware and facility 
requirements, its future workforce needs will likely remain 
unidentified until well after the space shuttle has returned to flight. 

Uncertainties with Respect to Implementing the Vision Limit the Space 
Shuttle Program's Ability to Identify Future Workforce Needs:

While the Vision has provided the Space Shuttle Program with the goal 
of retiring the space shuttle by 2010 upon completion of the ISS, the 
program lacks well-defined objectives or goals on which to base its 
workforce planning efforts. For example, NASA has not yet determined 
the final configuration of the ISS or the type of vehicle that will 
replace the space shuttle and be used for space exploration. These 
decisions are important because they affect the time frames for 
retiring the space shuttle. Once made, these decisions will also 
provide important information that officials have said will be used to 
guide Space Shuttle Program retirement planning efforts, including 
efforts to determine whether to maintain, closeout, or transition the 
program's facilities, hardware, and workforce as they are no longer 
needed to support the program. Lacking this information, officials have 
said that their ability to progress with detailed long-term workforce 
planning is limited. 

Despite Uncertainties, the Space Shuttle Program Could Follow a 
Strategic Human Capital Management Approach to Plan for Sustaining Its 
Critically Skilled Workforce:

Studies by several organizations, including GAO, have shown that 
successful organizations in both the public and private sectors follow 
a strategic human capital management approach, even when faced with an 
uncertain future environment. For example, following a strategic human 
capital management approach can help an organization to (1) prepare its 
workforce to meet present and future mission requirements, (2) plan for 
future human capital needs in an uncertain environment, and (3) address 
future human capital issues that could jeopardize the accomplishment of 
goals.[Footnote 20] As part of this approach, strategic workforce 
planning begins with establishing a strategic direction and setting 
goals to guide planning efforts for the organization early on in the 
planning process.[Footnote 21] When this is not possible due to an 
uncertain future environment, scenario planning is one approach that 
can be used as part of a strategic workforce planning process. 

Scenario planning is used to describe different future environments 
that an organization may face and can provide a basis for developing 
and planning strategies to meet the challenges posed by those scenarios 
rather than planning to meet the needs of a single view of the future. 
For example, following the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001, 
and during the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the 
U.S. Coast Guard undertook scenario planning to guide its short-term 
operational and human capital planning efforts due to uncertainties. 
For the Space Shuttle Program, scenario planning could guide workforce 
planning efforts because it can be undertaken despite uncertainties the 
program faces and without having definitive requirements for program 
hardware and facility needs through retirement. Scenario planning could 
also provide the space shuttle program with flexibility in its 
workforce planning efforts because it does not rely on information 
provided by hardware and facility assessments and could be undertaken 
by NASA personnel not currently focused on returning the space shuttle 
to flight. The information provided by scenario planning could then be 
used by program officials to support workforce assessments once 
decisions about the programs hardware and facility needs have been 
made. 

Conclusions:

This is one of the most challenging periods in the history of the Space 
Shuttle Program. Not only must NASA demonstrate that the space shuttle 
can safely fly again, it must begin the process of retiring its largest 
program while preparing for the uncertain future of space exploration. 
The necessity to plan for sustaining a critically skilled space shuttle 
workforce at this time is critical given the impact that expected 
workforce problems would have on the program and other larger NASA 
goals. While the Space Shuttle Program acknowledges that sustaining its 
critically skilled workforce through the program's retirement is 
important, the absence of a detailed long-term strategy for doing so 
makes it unclear how the program will actually accomplish this. By 
delaying steps to address future workforce needs until other decisions 
have been made, the program is not taking advantage of valuable time 
that it could use to better position itself to implement workforce 
strategies to address expected future challenges and sustain a 
critically skilled workforce through retirement. Approaches to 
workforce planning that take in to account uncertainties and provide 
the program with flexibility in determining future workforce 
requirements would be particularly relevant to the Space Shuttle 
Program given the issues that must be resolved before the program can 
proceed with more detailed workforce planning efforts. 

Recommendation for Executive Action:

To better position the agency to sustain a critically skilled space 
shuttle workforce through retirement, we recommend that the Acting 
Administrator direct the Associate Administrator for the Office of 
Space Operations to implement an approach, as part of its preliminary 
planning efforts, for identifying the program's future workforce needs 
that takes into account various future scenarios the program could 
face. The program should then use this information to develop 
strategies for meeting the needs of its potential future scenarios. The 
information collected and strategies devised during scenario planning 
will then be readily available to be incorporated into the program's 
detailed workforce planning efforts once any uncertainties have been 
resolved. 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation:

In written and oral comments on a draft of this report, NASA indicated 
that it concurred with our findings, conclusions, and recommendation. 
NASA reiterated that its primary near-term focus is on safely returning 
the space shuttle to flight, but stated that the agency is laying the 
foundation needed to move forward with a comprehensive approach for 
transitioning the Space Shuttle Program through its Integrated Space 
Operations Summit process. NASA plans to use this process to provide 
the agency with an independent view of the respective issues 
surrounding the mission execution and transition of the Space Shuttle 
Program and its assets. According to NASA, the information provided by 
this process will allow the agency to review the risks and 
opportunities related to a number of alternate scenarios that the Space 
Shuttle Program might support within the Vision. 

We are encouraged that NASA is laying the foundation needed for 
transitioning the Space Shuttle Program. NASA has the opportunity to 
use the Integrated Space Operations Summit process, specifically the 
alternate future scenarios for the Space Shuttle Program that it will 
provide, to proceed with identifying the program's future workforce 
needs based upon such scenarios. As our recommendation stated, this 
information could then be readily available to support the program's 
detailed workforce planning efforts once any uncertainties have been 
resolved. NASA's comments are reprinted in appendix III. 

NASA also provided technical comments, which we addressed throughout 
the report as appropriate. 

As agreed with your offices, unless you announce its contents earlier, 
we will not distribute this report further until 30 days from its date. 
At that time, we will send copies to NASA's Acting Administrator and 
interested congressional committees. We will make copies available to 
others upon request. In addition, the report will be available at no 
charge on the GAO Web site at http://www.gao.gov. 

If you or your staff have any questions concerning this report, please 
contact me at (202) 512-4841 or lia@gao.gov. Key contributors to this 
report are acknowledged in appendix IV. 

Signed by: 

Allen Li, Director: 
Acquisition and Sourcing Management:

[End of section]

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology:

To identify the progress that the National Aeronautics and Space 
Administration (NASA) and United Space Alliance have made toward 
developing a strategy for sustaining their critically skilled 
workforces through the space shuttle's retirement, we:

* Obtained and analyzed NASA documents and briefing slides related to 
human capital management, including NASA's Strategic Human Capital Plan 
and Implementation Plan, NASA center Strategic Human Capital 
Implementation Plans, NASA's Workforce Plan for Use of the NASA 
Flexibility Act of 2004 Authorities, policies and procedures for 
workforce planning, and information on NASA's integrated human capital 
management tools--such as its Competency Management System, Workforce 
Integrated Management System, and workforce analysis tools. 

* Obtained and reviewed NASA documents and briefing slides related to 
the space shuttle's operations and retirement, including reports 
identifying the "lessons learned" from the Air Force Titan IV Rocket 
Program, Navy Base Realignment and Closure activity, NASA Industrial 
Facility closure, and the Boeing A/V-8B and F/A-18 production line 
transition, and plans and projected schedules for future space shuttle 
flights and manifests. 

* Interviewed United Space Alliance officials regarding their support 
of space shuttle operations and involvement with space shuttle 
retirement planning efforts. We also obtained and analyzed documents 
related to United Space Alliance's workforce, including demographic 
data, workforce strategies, and critical skills identification. 

* Reviewed previous GAO reports on NASA, the Space Shuttle Program, and 
on human capital and workforce planning best practices. We also 
reviewed human capital reports and guidance from the Office of 
Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget, and 
interviewed officials from the National Academy of Public 
Administration regarding human capital management. In addition, we 
reviewed a report issued by the National Science Board on issues facing 
the U.S. science and engineering workforce. 

* Interviewed NASA and United Space Alliance officials and received 
written and oral responses to questions regarding the space shuttle 
workforce, its demographics, space shuttle operations, and space 
shuttle retirement planning efforts; NASA operations and management; 
NASA and United Space Alliance human capital and workforce planning 
practices; the NASA Flexibility Act of 2004; NASA Safety and Mission 
Assurance activities; and space shuttle contracts, including the Space 
Flight Operations Contract. 

To identify any factors that may have impeded efforts to develop a 
strategy for sustaining a critically skilled workforce through 
retirement, we:

* Interviewed NASA and United Space Alliance officials to obtain an 
understanding of the challenges they face in planning for the space 
shuttle's retirement and in addressing workforce issues that may arise 
as a result of the decision to retire the space shuttle. 

* Obtained and analyzed NASA and United Space Alliance responses to 
questions that asked for information regarding their goals and 
strategies for retiring the space shuttle, the processes they expect to 
follow to achieve these goals, and the tools and strategies they might 
use to address workforce issues through the space shuttle's retirement. 

To accomplish our work, we visited and interviewed officials 
responsible for space shuttle operations at NASA Headquarters, 
Washington, D.C; and at three NASA centers designated as Space 
Operations Centers, including Johnson Space Center (JSC), Texas; 
Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida; and Marshall Space Flight Center 
(MSFC), Alabama. These centers were chosen because they maintain 
primary responsibility for conducting space shuttle operations and are 
the centers at which the vast majority of the space shuttle workforce 
is located. The offices we met with at each of these centers included 
Safety and Mission Assurance and Human Resources. Additional 
information was attained from the Space Shuttle Program Office at JSC; 
the Space Shuttle Processing Directorate and Space Shuttle Strategic 
Planning Office at KSC; the Space Shuttle Propulsion Office, Customer 
and Employees Relations Directorate, and Space Transportation 
Directorate at MSFC; and the Offices of Space Operations, Exploration 
Systems, and Procurement at NASA Headquarters. 

We conducted our review from April 2004 to March 2005 in accordance 
with generally accepted government auditing standards. 

[End of section]

Appendix II: Summary of NASA Reports on Lessons Learned Applicable to 
the Space Shuttle Program:

To prepare for the space shuttle's retirement, NASA identified the 
lessons learned from the closeout or retirement of programs comparable 
to the space shuttle, including the Air Force Titan IV Rocket Program, 
the Navy Base Realignment and Closure activity, and the NASA Industrial 
Facility closure.[Footnote 22] NASA's reports capture lessons learned 
that might be applicable to the Space Shuttle Program's retirement 
planning. NASA's highlights from these studies are shown in table 1. 

Table 1: Summary of NASA Reports on Lessons Learned Applicable to the 
Space Shuttle Program:

Report: Air Force Titan IV Rocket Program Closeout; 
NASA's highlights: 
* Successful program mission execution is the goal. This is a large 
consideration, as mission success is the top priority, focusing on 
safety and quality. Implicit in this is the successful retention of 
personnel, as well as retention through closeout to follow-on programs; 
* A fundamental change in mindset must occur to ensure successful 
mission execution. Because the supply line of spares will terminate, 
the Space Shuttle Program must establish the mindset that identifies 
and preserves all materials necessary for mission execution; 
* Management information should not be based on rumors. The ground 
rules for the retirement effort should be established early with buy-in 
from the stakeholders and be carried through the entire program. These 
rules can change over the program, but should only be from official 
direction, such as from congressional directive; 
* Environmental assessment and remediation will be a large 
consideration for resources. Informed and active planning will require 
knowledge and ongoing effort with regulations, local laws, and Federal 
Acquisition Regulations; 
* Communication with stakeholders, Space Shuttle Program managers, and 
particularly all Space Shuttle Program personnel must be consistent and 
clear from the start of planning through program retirement; 
* Most importantly, begin the planning process early. 

Report: Navy Base Realignment and Closure Activity: Closure of Naval 
Station Roosevelt Roads; 
NASA's highlights: 
* Develop an overarching, long-term strategic plan involving 
integration of the Space Shuttle Program retirement and follow-on 
programs to optimize NASA resources by minimizing costs and ensuring 
that planned milestones do not slip; 
* Consider special legislation to earmark funds from property sales to 
return to NASA; 
* Know the environmental conditions and liabilities of all closeout 
sites. Perform environmental baseline surveys early so that the results 
can be used in strategic planning; 
* Environmental assessment and remediation require time and will be a 
considerable portion of the closeout budget; 
* Develop and implement a strong communication plan that is proactive 
and open with all audiences-- internal, congressional, and external. 

Report: NASA Industrial Facility Closure in Downey, California; 
NASA's highlights: 
* Major decision drivers will be the congressional direction for 
closing and transitioning the Space Shuttle Program, the disposition of 
tooling, transitioning or retaining critical capabilities, and possibly 
personnel issues; 
* The Space Shuttle Program needs to perform a strategic assessment of 
the total program's assets, skills, and capabilities. Identify phase-
out candidates and streamline operations to gain efficiencies; 
* The challenges in the closeout effort include environmental 
remediation, historical preservation, personnel retention, and property 
disposition; 
* Significant costs were for personnel relocation, moving equipment, 
and environmental remediation; 
* A significant challenge will be to determine the extent to which 
NASA's activities contributed to the current environmental condition of 
each site and the extent to which NASA is responsible for remediation 
of the site; 
* The closeout team should include representatives of external 
organizations such as historical, environmental, and political (local, 
state, and federal) organizations, the General Services Administration, 
the Defense Contract Audit Agency, etc., and internal contractors; 
* Communicate internally and externally with honesty and clarity. 
Prevent rumors with an effective communication process. A public 
relations firm may provide expertise in strategic communication to 
garner goodwill with the surrounding community. 

Source: NASA. 

[End of table]

[End of section]

Appendix III: Comments from the National Aeronautics and Space 
Administration:

National Aeronautics and Space Administration:
Office of the Administrator: 
Washington, DC 20546-0001:

February 25, 2005:

Mr. Allen Li:
Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management Team:
United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548:

Dear Mr. Li:

NASA acknowledges the hard work and professionalism that the GAO has 
rut forth in their audit of the workforce issues surrounding the 
transition of the Space Shuttle Program (SSP) in support of the Vision 
for Space Exploration. We are in accord with your findings and 
conclusions. Our primary near-term focus is safely returning the Space 
Shuttle to flight to complete the assembly of the International Space 
Station (ISS). However, we are also carefully and methodically laying 
the foundation that will be needed to address a comprehensive 
transition approach. This effort will accelerate as near-term Vision 
objectives are achieved and decisions made as to whether Space Shuttle 
assets will be used to provide lift capability in support of Vision 
objectives following completion of ISS assembly,

To transition a program of the size and complexity of the SSP will not 
be easy As was stated in the report, we are studying the lessons of 
those who have preceded us. In addition to the transition-focused 
activities within the SSP, we are gathering information from our well- 
established Integrated Space Operations Summit (ISOS) process. This 
year's ISOS has been modified and enhanced to include an SSP Mission 
Execution panel and an SSP Transition panel. Each panel is chartered to 
provide an independent strategic view of the respective issues 
surrounding the SSP. This effort includes review of the risks and 
opportunities related to a number of alternate scenarios that the SSP 
might support within the Vision for Space Exploration.

We look forward to our continued work with the GAO as we proceed with 
implementing the Vision for Space Exploration.

Cordially, 

Signed by: 

Fredrick D. Gregory: 
Acting Administrator: 

[End of section]

Appendix IV: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments:

GAO Contact:

Allen Li (202) 512-4841:

Staff Acknowledgments:

In addition to the individual named above, Wesley A. Johnson, Robert 
Lilly, James Morrison, Shelby S. Oakley, and T.J. Thomson made key 
contributions to this report. 

FOOTNOTES

[1] The Vision includes a return to the moon that is intended to 
ultimately enable future exploration of Mars and other destinations. To 
accomplish this, NASA plans to (1) complete its work on the ISS by 
2010, fulfilling its commitment to 15 international partner countries; 
(2) begin developing a new manned exploration vehicle to replace the 
space shuttle; and (3) return to the moon as early as 2015 and no later 
than 2020 in preparation for future, more ambitious missions. 

[2] The Space Shuttle Program accounted for 27 percent of NASA's fiscal 
year 2005 budget request. 

[3] Following the Space Shuttle Columbia accident, the Columbia 
Accident Investigation Board made recommendations to NASA aimed at 
significantly reducing the chances of further accidents in the space 
shuttle's remaining flights. Since that time, the Space Shuttle Program 
has worked to implement these recommendations and has made other 
efforts aimed at improving the space shuttle's safety. Columbia 
Accident Investigation Board, Report Volume I (Washington, D.C.: August 
2003). 

[4] GAO, Space Shuttle: Human Capital Challenges Require Management 
Attention, GAO/T-NSIAD-00-133 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 22, 2000) and 
GAO, Space Shuttle: Human Capital and Safety Upgrade Challenges Require 
Continued Attention, GAO/NSIAD/GGD-00-186 (Washington, D.C.: Aug 15, 
2000); Columbia Accident Investigation Board, Report Volume I 
(Washington, D.C.: August 2003); Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, 
Annual Report for 2001 (Washington, D.C.: March 2002); and Behavioral 
Sciences Technology, Inc., Assessment and Plan for Organizational 
Culture Change at NASA (Ojai, Calif.: March 15, 2004). 

[5] To return the space shuttle to flight, NASA will conduct two 
flights. The planning window for the first flight is May 12 through 
June 3, 2005, and the planning window for the second flight is July 10 
through August 2, 2005. The purpose of these flights is to test and 
evaluate new procedures for flight safety implemented as a result of 
the Space Shuttle Columbia accident. 

[6] Number is based on a full-time equivalent calculation. Full-time 
equivalent is a measure of staff hours equal to those of an employee 
who works 40 hours per week in 1 year; therefore, the actual number of 
employees who work part-time or full-time on the Space Shuttle Program 
is greater than 2,000. The number was calculated by averaging the 
number of civil service employees over fiscal year 2004. 

[7] The number was calculated by averaging the number of contractor 
employees over fiscal year 2004. This number includes data from NASA's 
prime contractor for space shuttle operations, United Space Alliance, 
and other NASA contractors. United Space Alliance, established in 1996 
as a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing to consolidate 
NASA's various Space Shuttle Program contracts under a single entity, 
and its approximately 10,400 employees are responsible for conducting 
the space shuttle's ground and flight operations under the Space Flight 
Operations Contract. The remaining contractor personnel are associated 
with other space shuttle components, such as its propulsion systems. 

[8] GAO/T-NSIAD-00-133 and GAO/NSIAD/GGD-00-186. 

[9] Columbia Accident Investigation Board, Report Volume I (Washington, 
D.C.: August 2003); Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, Annual Report for 
2001 (Washington, D.C.: March 2002); and Behavioral Sciences 
Technology, Inc., Assessment and Plan for Organizational Culture Change 
at NASA (Ojai, Calif.: March 15, 2004). 

[10] National Science Board, Science and Engineering Indicators 2004. 
Volume 1, NSB 04-1 (Arlington, Va.: National Science Foundation, 2004). 

[11] GAO, High-Risk Series: An Update, GAO-01-263 (Washington, D.C.: 
January 2001); GAO, High-Risk Series: An Update, GAO-03-119 
(Washington, D.C.: January 2003); GAO, High-Risk Series: An Update, GAO-
05-207 (Washington, D.C.: January 2005); GAO, Performance 
Accountability Series--Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: A 
Governmentwide Perspective, GAO-01-241 (Washington, D.C.: January 
2001); GAO, Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: A 
Governmentwide Perspective, GAO-03-95 (Washington, D.C.: January 2003); 
GAO, Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: National 
Aeronautics and Space Administration, GAO-01-258 (Washington, D.C.: 
January 2001); and GAO, Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: 
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, GAO-03-114 (Washington, 
D.C.: January 2003). See also www.gao.gov/pas/2005. 

[12] The President's Management Agenda was launched in fiscal year 2002 
as a strategy for improving the management and performance of the 
federal government. It focuses on five governmentwide initiatives, 
including strategic human capital management, where deficiencies were 
most apparent and where the government could begin to deliver concrete, 
measurable results. Executive branch agencies continue to be evaluated 
quarterly based upon their progress in implementing actions to address 
the five initiatives. 

[13] Based on an Office of Management and Budget standard of strategic 
management of human capital and developed in conjunction with GAO, the 
Office of Personnel Management issued its Human Capital Assessment and 
Accountability Framework in October 2002, which lists six "Human 
Capital Standards for Success," including one on workforce planning. 

[14] GAO, A Model of Strategic Human Capital Management, GAO-02-373SP 
(Washington, D.C.: Mar. 15, 2002) and GAO, Human Capital: A Self- 
Assessment Checklist for Agency Leaders, GAO/OCG-00-14G (Washington, 
D.C.: Sept. 1, 2000). 

[15] Enacted in February 2004, the NASA Flexibility Act of 2004 (P.L. 
108-201) amends title 5, United States Code, by inserting a new chapter 
98 in that title, which provides new authorities to NASA. On March 26, 
2004, NASA submitted a written workforce plan for using its new 
authorities to Congress. 

[16] Prior to conducting these assessments, NASA will hold an 
Integrated Space Operations Summit to evaluate space shuttle and ISS 
assets and devise a set of strategic implementation plans to meet the 
agency's future needs. 

[17] NASA has extended the SFOC through September 2006 and has begun 
proceedings with United Space Alliance to award the follow-on contract 
to be effective on October 1, 2006, through the end of the program. 
NASA chose to exercise the 2-year extension under the current SFOC to 
allow the Space Shuttle Program to remain focused on returning the 
space shuttle to flight. Further, this option was exercised to provide 
better clarity into the content for the follow-on contract necessary to 
safely complete ISS assembly and support and retire the space shuttle. 

[18] Award-fee provisions may be used in fixed-price contracts when the 
government wishes to motivate a contractor and other incentives cannot 
be used because contractor performance cannot be measured objectively. 
Federal Acquisition Regulation 16.404 (a). 

[19] See GAO, NASA: Lack of Disciplined Cost-Estimating Processes 
Hinders Effective Program Management, GAO-04-642 (Washington, D.C.: May 
28, 2004). 

[20] GAO-02-373SP and GAO, Human Capital: Key Principles for Effective 
Strategic Workforce Planning, GAO-04-39 (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 11, 
2003). 

[21] A strategic direction is a clear set of organizational intents-- 
including a clearly defined mission, set of core values, goals and 
objectives, and strategies to achieve these. Setting a strategic 
direction and program goals is part of the general performance 
management principles that Congress expects federal agencies to follow 
under the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA), Pub. 
L. No. 103-62. GPRA calls for agencies to address human capital in the 
context of performance management and requires annual performance plans 
for each program activity in the agency's budget, which describes how 
agencies will use resources to accomplish their strategic direction and 
program goals. 

[22] NASA also identified the lessons learned from the closeout of the 
Boeing A/V-8B and F/A-18 production line transition. This report, 
however, was not completed in time for our reporting purposes. 

GAO's Mission:

The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of 
Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional 
responsibilities and to help improve the performance and accountability 
of the federal government for the American people. GAO examines the use 
of public funds; evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides 
analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make 
informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO's commitment to 
good government is reflected in its core values of accountability, 
integrity, and reliability. 

Obtaining Copies of GAO Reports and Testimony:

The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no 
cost is through the Internet. GAO's Web site ( www.gao.gov ) contains 
abstracts and full-text files of current reports and testimony and an 
expanding archive of older products. The Web site features a search 
engine to help you locate documents using key words and phrases. You 
can print these documents in their entirety, including charts and other 
graphics. 

Each day, GAO issues a list of newly released reports, testimony, and 
correspondence. GAO posts this list, known as "Today's Reports," on its 
Web site daily. The list contains links to the full-text document 
files. To have GAO e-mail this list to you every afternoon, go to 
www.gao.gov and select "Subscribe to e-mail alerts" under the "Order 
GAO Products" heading. 

Order by Mail or Phone:

The first copy of each printed report is free. Additional copies are $2 
each. A check or money order should be made out to the Superintendent 
of Documents. GAO also accepts VISA and Mastercard. Orders for 100 or 
more copies mailed to a single address are discounted 25 percent. 
Orders should be sent to:

U.S. Government Accountability Office

441 G Street NW, Room LM

Washington, D.C. 20548:

To order by Phone:

	

Voice: (202) 512-6000:

TDD: (202) 512-2537:

Fax: (202) 512-6061:

To Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse in Federal Programs:

Contact:

Web site: www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm

E-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov

Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470:

Public Affairs:

Jeff Nelligan, managing director,

NelliganJ@gao.gov

(202) 512-4800

U.S. Government Accountability Office,

441 G Street NW, Room 7149

Washington, D.C. 20548: