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    Results:

    Subject Term: "Launch vehicles"

    5 publications with a total of 9 open recommendations including 4 priority recommendations
    Director: Alicia Puente Cackley
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the government is not exposed to more liability risk than intended, the Secretary of Transportation should ensure that the FAA Administrator prioritizes the development of a plan to address the identified weakness in the cost-of-casualty amount, including setting time frames for action, and update the amount based on current information.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Transportation agreed with the recommendation. As of May 2017, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plans to seek feedback from the commercial space and insurance industries to obtain views on an appropriate cost-of-casualty amount and implications of any changes. After receiving this input, FAA will determine whether to modify the cost-of-casualty amount and initiate action. We will continue to monitor FAA's actions in response to this recommendation.
    Director: Gerald L. Dillingham, Ph.D.
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To respond to changes in the aviation and commercial space-transportation industries, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to fully examine and document whether the current regulatory framework is appropriate for aircraft that could be considered space support vehicles, and if not, suggest legislation or develop regulatory changes, or both, as applicable.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Cackley, Alicia P
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure spaceport operators' understanding of FAA's financial responsibility regulations for commercial space launches, the Secretary of Transportation should ensure that the FAA Administrator provides additional communication to clarify FAA's interpretation of the financial responsibility regulations for commercial space launches. The forms of communication could include, among other things, issuing additional guidance or using other forums to clarify when a spaceport operator is a third party to a launch and when it is not.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Cristina Chaplain
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To ensure that the SLS cost and schedule estimates better conform with best practices and are useful to support management decisions, the NASA Administrator should direct SLS officials to update the SLS cost and schedule estimates, at least annually, to reflect actual costs and schedule and record any reasons for variances before preparing their budget requests for the ensuing fiscal year. To the extent practicable, these updates should also incorporate additional best practices including thoroughly documenting how data were adjusted for use in the update and cross-checking results to ensure they are credible.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: NASA agreed with this recommendation and reported taking steps to address it through its annual assessment of the SLS's current cost and schedule estimates against its Agency Baseline Commitment. The agency provided the results of this assessment but did not address the deficiencies we identified in NASA's original estimate, including thoroughly documenting how data were adjusted for the update and cross-checking the results to ensure credibility. In order to close this recommendation, NASA's estimate of its current costs would ideally include documentation of how data were adjusted for use in the updated estimate as well as an explanation of any estimating methodology crosschecks. At a minimum, the estimate documentation should include an explanation of variances between the original estimate and the current estimate.
    Recommendation: To provide more comprehensive information on program performance, the NASA administrator should direct the SLS program to expedite implementation of the program-level EVM system.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: The SLS program concurred with our recommendation and has taken steps to implement a program-level earned value management (EVM) system. In May 2016, NASA and Boeing finalized its contract with Boeing for the SLS core stage, the largest development effort in the program. According to NASA officials, the SLS program began receiving contractor earned value management data derived from the new core stage performance measurement baseline in fall 2016. At that time the program implemented a program-level EVM system tracking both in-house and contractor effort.
    Recommendation: To ensure that decisionmakers are able to track progress toward the agency's committed launch readiness date, the NASA administrator should direct the SLS program to include as part of the program's quarterly reports to NASA headquarters a reporting mechanism that tracks and reports program progress relative to the agency's external committed cost and schedule baselines.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: The SLS program concurred with our recommendation. According to NASA officials, the program has taken steps to track and report progress relative to the agency's external committed cost and schedule baselines within the program's quarterly reports to NASA headquarters. The program, however, has not yet provided documentation of these actions to GAO.
    Director: Cristina Chaplain
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    3 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide the Congress with the necessary insight into program planning and affordability, and to decrease the risk of cost and schedule overruns, NASA's Administrator should direct the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to take the following action: To promote affordability, before finalizing acquisition plans for future capability variants, NASA should assess the full range of competition opportunities and provide to the Congress the agency's assessment of the extent to which development and production of future elements of the SLS could be competitively procured.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: NASA agreed with this recommendation. NASA competitively awarded a contract to develop and build a universal stage adapter and provided justifications for other than full and open competition for the Exploration Upper Stage and Exploration Upper Stage engines as well as for the acquisition of six additional RS-25 engines. NASA, however, did not provide support that in advance of awarding these sole source contracts that it provided to Congress the agency's assessment of the extent to which development and production of future elements of the SLS could be competitively procured. To fully implement this recommendation, NASA should conduct such an analysis and provide this assessment to Congress for the new advanced boosters that it plans to acquire.
    Recommendation: To provide the Congress with the necessary insight into program planning and affordability, and to decrease the risk of cost and schedule overruns, NASA's Administrator should direct the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to take the following action: To allow for a continued assessment of progress and affordability, NASA should structure each future increment of SLS capability with a total cost exceeding the $250 million threshold for designation as a major project as a separate development effort within the SLS program. In doing so, NASA should require each increment to complete both the technical and programmatic reviews required of other major development projects, per the agency's acquisition and system engineering policies.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: NASA agreed with this recommendation. In May 2017, NASA officials stated that efforts to address this recommendation are in progress.
    Recommendation: To provide the Congress with the necessary insight into program planning and affordability, and to decrease the risk of cost and schedule overruns, NASA's Administrator should direct the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to take the following action: Provide decision makers with an informed basis for making investment decisions regarding the SLS program, NASA should identify a range of possible missions for each future SLS variant that includes cost and schedule estimates and plans for how those possible missions would fit within NASA's funding profile.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: NASA agreed with this recommendation. NASA officials stated they have taken steps to address it through issuing its September 2016 Human Exploration and Operations Exploration Objectives document. This document is a positive step in providing additional details about NASA?s vision as it includes more details on the objectives that NASA plans to accomplish in its phases of exploration. To fully address this recommendation, however, NASA still needs to identify cost and schedule estimates for any possible SLS missions beyond its first exploration mission, EM-1, and how its planned missions would fit within NASA's funding profile.