Financing Research in Antarctica:

Tighter Control of Logistic Support Costs Needed

ID-77-59: Published: Dec 30, 1977. Publicly Released: Dec 30, 1977.

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The United States is one of 12 Nations that signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1959 providing in part for the peaceful use of Antarctica for cooperative scientific research. At the conclusion of the 1957-58 International Geophysical Year, responsibility for the U.S. Antarctic Research Program was shifted from the National Academy of Sciences to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and, under its direction, exploration and research have increased.

U.S. personnel in Antarctica in 1976 ranged from about 500 during the summer to 80 in the winter. Four permanent stations are maintained year round, and two research ships are used, one NSF-owned and one Navy-owned. In fiscal year (FY) 1977, the Government spent over $50 million on the Antarctic program. The Department of Defense (DOD) supplies most of the logistic support through the Navy's Operation DEEP FREEZE, and some support is provided by the Coast Guard. Although major logistic support costs are now being funded by NSF, some services are still funded by DOD. The Coast Guard's icebreaker services, estimated at $5.4 million in FY 1977, are only partially reimbursed by NSF. The review of the logistic support force cost estimates and accounting procedures for the Antarctic program revealed that: the Navy's estimates often were unsupported by documentation and were inflated; NSF relies on the Navy to account for support costs and to bill it although the review of billings was inadequate; NSF's internal control and accountability for logistic support funds were inadequate and resulted in lack of awareness of $1.5 million in unliquidated obligations; and NSF's procedures did not insure effective use of funds.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should identify the logistic support for the Antarctic program that is borne by DOD and establish procedures to estimate costs which should be billed to NSF. The Secretary of Defense and the Director of NSF should improve coordination of logistic support finances by establishing better estimating procedures and documentation. The Director of NSF should improve accounting procedures and strengthen capability for managing and monitoring the program's support contracts and agreements.

    Agency Affected:


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