Major Management Challenges and Program Risks

GAO-03-849T: Published: Jun 12, 2003. Publicly Released: Jun 12, 2003.

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Allen Li
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Since its inception, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has undertaken numerous programs that have greatly advanced scientific and technological knowledge. NASA's activities span a broad range of complex and technical endeavors. But the agency is at a critical juncture, and major management improvements are needed. In January of this year, we identified four challenges facing NASA: (1) strengthening strategic human capital management, (2) improving contract management; (3) controlling International Space Station costs, and (4) reducing space launch costs.

In summary, these challenges affect NASA's ability to effectively run its largest programs. NASA's ultimate challenge will be in tackling the root problems impeding those programs. This will require (1) instituting a results-oriented culture that fosters knowledge sharing and empowers its workforce to accomplish programmatic goals; (2) ensuring that the agency adheres to management controls to prevent cost overruns and scheduling problems; (3) transforming the financial management organization so it better supports NASA's core mission; and (4) sustaining commitment to change.

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