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    Results:

    Subject Term: "Technical challenges"

    4 publications with a total of 11 open recommendations including 4 priority recommendations
    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: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should, in assessing the alternatives, revise cost and schedule estimates for the Low Activity Waste Pretreatment System and the Tank Waste Characterization and Staging facility in accordance with industry best practices.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will monitor the status of this proposed requirement.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should revise the statements of mission need for the two proposed projects to allow DOE to consider a variety of alternatives without limiting potential solutions, consistent with the DOE requirement that mission need statements should not identify particular solution such as equipment, facility, or technology.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DOE DARTS report on 5/19/16, revision of the statement of mission for the Low Activity Waste Pretreatment System "has become overcome by events". We will continue to follow up on this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should, in accordance with DOE's Office of River Protection quality assurance policy, conduct an extent-of-condition review for WTP's High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities' systems that have not been reviewed by DOE.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE agreed with the recommendations and in its written responses to our report stated that it had implemented them. However, we believe additional actions are needed, as indicated in the priority recommendations letter we sent to DOE in 2017. To fully address the recommendations, DOE should conduct an extent-of-condition review for WTP's High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities' systems.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should consider whether or to what extent construction activities for the High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities should be further limited until aggressive risk mitigation strategies are developed and employed to address technical challenges that DOE, the contractor, and others have identified but not yet resolved.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE has noted that these activities were already limited and stated that a specific set of criteria has been established for resuming construction on the High Level Waste facility. However, as we noted in our report, an extent-of-condition review has not been performed on the remainder of the facility's systems, and recommendations from the facility's design and operability review have not been implemented. DOE also stated that construction on the Low Activity Waste facility is nearly complete, that the WTP Federal Project Director has a detailed risk register, and that each remaining risk is being proactively mitigated. This statement, however, does not fully reflect the extent or potential seriousness of the technical risks that remain. An extent-of-condition review may mean limiting the production of new design documents until this review is complete in order to avoid potential costly rework. We believe additional actions are needed. To fully address the recommendation, DOE should consider whether or to what extent construction activities for those facilities should be further limited until this review is completed and aggressive risk mitigation strategies are developed and employed.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should enlist the services of another agency or external entity to serve as an owner's agent to assist the Office of River Protection in reviewing and evaluating the WTP contractor's design and approach to mitigating design challenges.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress required DOE to meet this requirement in the 2016 NDAA, and DOE reports that they issued a contract to Parsons Government Services on September 29, 2015. We have requested a copy of this contract for review to ensure that the recommendation has been addressed.
    Director: Cristina Chaplain
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to provide additional information and analyses to effectively manage the program and account for new risks identified after the 2011 replan, the NASA Administrator should direct JWST project officials to follow best practices while conducting a cost risk analysis on the prime contract for the work remaining and ensure the analysis is updated as significant risks emerge.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: JWST did conduct a cost risk analysis and provided the results to GAO. We reported in GAO-16-112 that it substantially met best practices. However, the project stated they did not plan to update the analysis as significant risks emerged, which is a key element of the recommendation.