National Aero-Space Plane:

A Need for Program Direction and Funding Decisions

NSIAD-93-207: Published: Jun 18, 1993. Publicly Released: Jun 28, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Aero-Space Plane (NASP) Program, focusing on the: (1) status of efforts to resolve the program's cost, schedule, and technical problems; and (2) lack of top-level management direction.

GAO found that: (1) the contractor has made some progress in resolving previously identified problems, but technical uncertainties will not be resolved by the end of phase II; (2) the program office has proposed a series of flight test experiments to address technical and affordability concerns; (3) the proposed experiments have been generally accepted by the Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), but Department of Defense (DOD) officials have not made a decision on the proposal; (4) the lack of top-level direction and unstable funding has hindered efforts to develop an affordable, executable program; and (5) phase III has been deferred as a result of unresolved cost, schedule, and technical problems.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Matters for Congressional Consideration

    Matter: Congress may wish to consider restricting DOD and NASA from obligating any fiscal year (FY) 1994 funds appropriated for the NASP Program beyond those necessary to complete the current phase II efforts until the program's future is better defined.

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Neither DOD nor NASA requested funds for this program for fiscal year 1995. Consequently, the program is scheduled to be closed out by the end of calendar year 1994.

    Matter: Congress may wish to require the Secretary of Defense and the Administrator, NASA, to report on the programmatic and funding implications concurrent with the program's FY 1995 budget request. Such a report should include a certification by the Secretary and the Administrator that their respective agencies have allocated sufficient funds in their out-year budgets to execute the next phase of the program.

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Neither DOD nor NASA requested funds for this program for fiscal year 1995. Consequently, the program is scheduled to be closed out by the end of calendar year 1994.

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense and the Administrator, NASA, through the Steering Group, should provide specific direction on the program's long-term technical objectives and goals.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Neither DOD nor NASA requested funds for this program for fiscal year 1995. Consequently, the program is scheduled to be closed out by the end of calendar year 1994.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense and the Administrator, NASA, through the Steering Group, should provide specific direction on the program's long-term technical objectives and goals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Neither DOD nor NASA requested funds for this program for fiscal year 1995. Consequently, the program is scheduled to be closed out by the end of calendar year 1994.

    Recommendation: The Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, should provide clear overall direction and guidance for the NASP Program.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Neither DOD nor NASA requested funds for this program for fiscal year 1995. Consequently, the program is scheduled to be closed out by the end of calendar year 1994.

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