Space Station:

Cost Control Difficulties Continue

NSIAD-96-135: Published: Jul 17, 1996. Publicly Released: Jul 24, 1996.

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Pursuant to congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) International Space Station (ISS) program, focusing on: (1) the program's cost and schedule status; and (2) NASA efforts to improve its cost reporting.

GAO found that: (1) over the past several years, ISS flight hardware has been produced; (2) as of April 1996, the ISS prime contract was about $89 million over cost and about $88 million behind schedule; (3) overall, the prime contract is 45-percent complete and these variances are within planned funding levels; (4) however, many cost threats to the development program remain, and financial reserves needed for unexpected contingencies remain limited over the next few years; (5) if available reserves ultimately prove inadequate, program managers would have to either exceed the annual funding limitation or defer or rephase other activities, thus possibly delaying ISS's schedule and likely increasing its overall cost; (6) NASA has made progress toward ensuring that the ISS prime development contractor and its major subcontractors implement effective performance measurement systems for managing their contracts, but a complete performance measurement system is still not in place; and (7) also, NASA has made slower progress implementing effective performance measurement systems on its contracts for developing ground-based and on-orbit capabilities for using and operating ISS.

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