NASA Management Challenges:

Human Capital and Other Critical Areas Need to be Addressed

GAO-02-945T: Published: Jul 18, 2002. Publicly Released: Jul 18, 2002.

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Allen Li
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This testimony discusses management challenges and program risks that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) faces in maintaining a skilled workforce, controlling costs, and providing effective oversight for important projects. NASA is taking on a major transformation aimed at eliminating stovepipes; becoming more integrated and results oriented; and reducing risks while working more economically, efficiently, and effectively. Successfully addressing each of four challenges will be critical for NASA in making sure that it is equipped to achieve its vision for the future. The first--strengthening human capital--will require a concerted and sustained effort by NASA's leadership to commit to change; ensure an appropriate mix of employees to meet future business needs; implement effective approaches for acquiring, developing, and retaining talent; develop and retain talent; and create a results-oriented culture. The remaining challenges facing NASA--controlling International Space Station costs; implementing a faster, better, cheaper approach to space exploration; and correcting weaknesses in contract management--are equally important. Without better oversight and management over its most important programs and acquisitions, NASA's transformation stands to lose credibility and support among its partners in industry, the international community, and academia as well as the support of Congress.

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