NASA Procurement:

Challenges Remain in Implementing Improvement Reforms

NSIAD-94-179: Published: Aug 18, 1994. Publicly Released: Sep 23, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) implementation of its procurement management improvement initiatives.

GAO found that: (1) NASA has partially or fully implemented all but one of its eight key procurement management improvement initiatives; (2) the initiatives include establishing a new award fee policy, increasing contractor liability for defective items and inadequate performance, establishing a standardized data set for reporting specific contractor performance measures, reducing the number and value of unpriced contract changes, minimum training requirements for contracting officers' technical representatives (COTR), achieving small and disadvantaged business goals, communicating with industry representatives about procurement issues and concerns, and testing methods to reduce the time and effort applied to the majority of NASA contracting actions; (3) some of the initiatives have partially achieved or exceeded their cost-reduction or schedule goals; and (4) other initiatives may not be fully effective due to planning and implementation problems which include potentially higher contract costs, the lack of clear and complete guidance, and subcontractors' potential unwillingness or inability to participate in NASA procurements due to increased liability.

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

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should evaluate the potential impact of the proposed contractor liability policy on small and disadvantaged businesses (SDB) and consider options to mitigate any adverse impacts identified.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NASA evaluated the potential impact of the proposed contractor liability policy, and the agency concluded that it would have almost no impact on small and disadvantaged businesses. In addition, if the proposed contractor liability policy is implemented in the future, NASA has stated that it intends to monitor the application of the clause to small and disadvantaged business subcontractors to ensure that a disproportionate risk is not placed upon them.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should define high-technology work and develop and implement a methodology for consistently measuring progress toward the NASA goal of increasing SDB participation in such work, either as prime contractors or subcontractors.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NASA defined high technology work in a procurement notice, and the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization is measuring progress toward the NASA goal of increasing the participation of small and disadvantaged businesses in such work through a database maintained by the Office of Procurement.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should direct that special reviews be conducted at centers to ensure that training courses for COTR sufficiently address new minimum training requirements.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: During its procurement management surveys, NASA is planning to conduct or has conducted a review of center COTR training courses to ensure that these courses sufficiently address new minimum training requirements.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, NASA, should provide guidance to the centers on establishing and applying criteria to determine when no additional training is needed to meet new minimum training requirements for COTR.

    Agency Affected: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NASA has determined that no additional guidance is required to the centers on establishing and applying criteria to determine when no additional training is needed to meet new minimum training requirements for COTRs. This determination was based on an agencywide survey of centers that showed that no center had applied experience in lieu of new minimum COTR training standards.

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