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    Results:

    Subject Term: "Space exploration"

    8 publications with a total of 14 open recommendations including 5 priority recommendations
    Director: Shelby S. Oakley
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure the availability of Pu-238 and RPS for space exploration, the Secretary of Energy should develop an implementation plan with milestones and interim steps for the department's management approach for Pu-238 and RPS production.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure the availability of Pu-238 and RPS for space exploration, the Secretary of Energy should assess the long-term effects that known challenges may have on production quantities, time frames, or required funding, and communicate these potential effects to NASA.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure the availability of Pu-238 and RPS for space exploration, the Secretary of Energy should develop a more comprehensive system to track more systemic risks, beyond the specific technical risks identified by individual laboratories.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    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

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: In order to ensure that the Congress is able to make informed resource decisions regarding a viable EM-1 launch readiness date, the NASA Administrator or Acting Administrator should direct the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to propose a new, more realistic EM-1 date if warranted and report to Congress on the results of its EM-1 schedule analysis.

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

    Comments: NASA agreed with this recommendation and stated that it is reassessing the launch readiness schedule.
    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: Chaplain, Cristina T
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To provide the Congress and NASA a reliable estimate of program cost and schedule that are useful to support management and stakeholder decisions, the NASA Administrator should direct the Orion program to perform an updated JCL analysis including updating cost and schedule estimates in adherence with cost and schedule estimating best practices.

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

    Comments: NASA partially agreed with this recommendation, stating that the agency reviewed, in detail, the Orion integrated cost/schedule and risk analysis methodology and determined the rigor to be a sufficient basis for the agency commitments. We still contend that NASA should update its analysis that informed its baseline because we found that the cost and schedule estimates underlying those baselines are not reliable as they did not conform to best practices.
    Recommendation: To have a full understanding of the cost, schedule, and safety impact of deferring work, the NASA Administrator should direct the Orion program to perform an analysis on the cost of deferred work in relation to levels of management reserves and unallocated future expenses and actual contractor performance, and report the results of that analysis to NASA management.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: NASA concurred with this recommendation, but characterized its deferral of work to date as task-level deferrals, lasting only several months and not affecting major program milestone or the critical path. NASA did agree to include an analysis of how these deferrals affect budget reserves and program performance in future routine management reporting. NASA officials told us that they are currently evaluating work flow for the first and second mission as the agency revisits the launch date for the first mission. Given this is currently being analyzed, officials were not able to provide any analysis at this time about the potential cost impact of changes in scheduled work.
    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: Mak, Marie A
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order for NASA to fully implement the NASA Authorization Act of 2008 and for CASIS to fulfill its responsibility as outlined in the cooperative agreement, the NASA Administrator should direct the Associate Administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to fully staff the ISS National Laboratory Advisory Committee.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: NASA does not plan to staff the International Space Station National Laboratory Advisory Committee (INLAC) at this time. Officials stated that they continue to believe that the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) Board of Directors meets the intent of the INLAC charter by providing oversight of CASIS implementation of utilization of the ISS as a national laboratory. NASA remains concerned about staffing another oversight group that may create conflicts with the existing CASIS Board of Directors. NASA is also exploring with CASIS opportunities to open portions of board meetings to the general public and interested parties in order to foster additional transparency and a broad and free exchange of ideas. In response to this recommendation, the Associate Administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate indicated that NASA was seeking relief from the statutory requirement to staff the INLAC.
    Director: Cristina Chaplain
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide the Congress with the necessary insight into program affordability, ensure its ability to effectively monitor total program costs and execution, and to facilitate investment decisions, the NASA's Administrator should direct the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to establish a separate cost and schedule baseline for work required to support the SLS Block I Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2) and report this information to the Congress through NASA's annual budget submission. If NASA decides to fly the SLS Block I beyond EM-2, establish separate life cycle cost and schedule baseline estimates for those efforts, to include funding for operations and sustainment, and report this information annually to Congress via the agency's budget submission.

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

    Comments: NASA partially agreed with this recommendation, stating that it defined and documented life cycle costs for SLS to a first demonstrated capability, consistent with cost estimating best practices and NASA project and program management policy and that it would report costs associated with the second exploration mission via its annual budget submission. Best practices for cost estimating recognize that NASA's evolutionary development approach for SLS helps reduce risk and provide capabilities more quickly, but reporting costs via the budget alone will not provide information about potential costs over the long-term and progress cannot be assessed without a baseline that serves as a means to compare current costs against expected costs. To address this recommendation, NASA needs to establish separate cost and schedule baselines for work required to support SLS for EM-2.
    Recommendation: To provide the Congress with the necessary insight into program affordability, ensure its ability to effectively monitor total program costs and execution, and to facilitate investment decisions, because NASA intends to use the increased capabilities of the SLS, Orion, and Ground Systems Development and Operations efforts well into the future and has chosen to estimate costs associated with achieving the capabilities, the NASA's Administrator should direct the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to establish separate cost and schedule baselines for each additional capability that encompass all life cycle costs, to include operations and sustainment. When NASA cannot fully specify costs due to lack of well-defined missions or flight manifests, forecast a cost estimate range -- including life cycle costs -- having minimum and maximum boundaries. These baselines or ranges should be reported to Congress annually via the agency's budget submission.

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

    Comments: NASA partially agreed with this recommendation, stating that it had established separate programs for Space Launch System, Orion, and the ground systems and adopted a block upgrade approach for SLS. While NASA's prior establishment of SLS, Orion, and the ground systems as separate programs lends some insight into expected costs and schedule at the broader program level, it does not meet the intent of the recommendation because cost and schedule identified at that level is unlikely to provide the detail necessary to monitor the progress of each block against a baseline. To address this recommendation, NASA needs to establish separate cost and schedule baselines for each additional SLS, Orion, and Ground Systems Development and Operations capability blocks that encompass all life-cycle costs, to include operations and sustainment.
    Director: Chaplain, Cristina T
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To continue to ensure funded Space Act agreements are used and managed appropriately, the Administrator of NASA should direct the appropriate offices to update the agency's policies and guidance to incorporate controls for documenting, at a minimum, the agency's decision to use a funded Space Act agreement and its analysis supporting the determination that no other instrument is feasible, as well as the agency's assessment of the fairness and reasonableness of the costs it is contributing to an effort conducted using a funded Space Act agreement.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: NASA updated its acquisition policy directive (NPD 1000.5), which outlines its strategic acquisition planning process, in 2013. Although this document only obliquely refers to NASA's other transaction authority (of which funded Space Act agreements (SAAs) are a part), it does link the use of Space Act agreements to NASA's strategic acquisition planning process. Additionally, in August 2017 NASA issued a memo implementing interim guidance for new procedural requirements for Space Act agreements pursuant to Section 841 of the NASA Authorization Act of 2017. This guidance specifies the applicability of requirements to document decisions to use funded SAAs, including a specific determination that other instruments are not feasible, which meets the intent of part of this recommendation. However, guidance relating to NASA's assessment of the fairness and reasonableness of the costs it is contributing under a funded SAA is forthcoming as an update to the Space Act Agreements Guide, expected in mid-September 2017. As such this recommendation will remain open until that document is updated.