Compliance With Cost Limits Cannot Be Verified

GAO-02-504R: Published: Apr 10, 2002. Publicly Released: Apr 10, 2002.

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Gregory D. Kutz
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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) authorization act for fiscal year 2000 limits expenditures for space station development to $25 billion and for shuttle launches to $17.7 billion. The act also requires NASA to (1) account for and report amounts obligated to date against the cost limits, (2) identify the amounts needed for future development and completion of the space station, and (3) arrange for GAO to verify the accounting within 60 days after submission of the budget request. Last year, GAO reported that NASA, as part of its fiscal year 2002 budget request, did not comply with the act's requirement to use obligations as its basis for reporting against the cost limits but instead used budget authority. The agency was also unable to provide detailed support for the amounts obligated against the limits for evaluation within the 60 days, but said that it could have provided the information if given more time. After a protracted effort, NASA has acknowledged that its systems cannot provide the data needed to support amounts obligated against the limits. NASA's inability to provide detailed data is due to its lack of a modern, integrated financial management system.

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