Large Programs May Consume Increasing Share of Limited Future Budgets

NSIAD-92-278: Published: Sep 4, 1992. Publicly Released: Sep 4, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) 5-year program plan, focusing on: (1) its consistency with potential budget resources; (2) major programs that would require the greatest share of limited future NASA budgets; (3) whether the NASA strategic plan corrects the mismatch between its 5-year plan and budget resources; and (4) improvements in NASA project status reports to Congress.

GAO found that: (1) the largest of NASA programs, such as the space shuttle, Space Station Freedom, and Earth Observing System, may require nearly all of the potential NASA appropriation by fiscal year (FY) 1997; (2) other budget areas may have large future funding demands; (3) NASA is reviewing its major programs with the view of reducing their cost and making appropriate adjustments to balance its overall space and aeronautics program with budget realities; (4) NASA 5-year planning estimates may be too optimistic in face of a 5-year domestic spending freeze; (5) major program growth may exacerbate the budget shortfalls and jeopardize funding for other NASA activities; (6) the NASA Vision 21 strategic plan does not accurately project the current programs' resource needs or likely future available funding; (7) Vision 21 is inconsistent with the executive branch's FY 1993 budget submission and several criteria mandated by Congress, but NASA is addressing the latter issue; and (8) NASA could improve its program status reports by including anticipated 5-year funding projections and life-cycle cost estimates in the funding section.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The intent of the recommendation was to provide better decisionmaking information to congressional committees that receive the project status reports. Those committees do not intend to take the recommended action.

    Matter: To improve the content and usefulness of NASA reports, Congress may wish to consider directing the Administrator, NASA, to incorporate 5-year program estimates and life-cycle costs currently required by Public Law 102-195, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 1992, into the funding section in NASA biannual project status reports.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: NASA is in the process of revising its strategic plan. Therefore, there is no longer a need for Congress to act.

    Matter: To improve the content and usefulness of NASA reports, Congress may wish to consider directing the Administrator, NASA, to submit a revised strategic plan that closely integrates NASA program planning with realistic future budgets for the agency.


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