NASA Infrastructure:

Challenges to Achieving Reductions and Efficiencies

NSIAD-96-187: Published: Sep 9, 1996. Publicly Released: Sep 16, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the status of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) efforts to achieve reductions and efficiencies in key areas of its infrastructure.

GAO found that: (1) NASA plans for a $2.8-billion reduction in the current replacement value of its facilities will yield only about $250 million in cost reductions through fiscal year (FY) 2000; (2) NASA has experienced problems in assessing cost-reduction opportunities because it did not thoroughly evaluate cost-reduction options, excluded many systems in its review of ways to cut supercomputer costs, performed questionable initial studies for aircraft consolidation, made inappropriate closure recommendations, and overstated cost-reduction estimates; (3) although environmental cleanup costs could affect facility disposition efforts, NASA lacks a policy for identifying other responsible parties and sharing cleanup costs; (4) a joint effort between NASA and the Department of Defense to study potential operation cost reductions through increased cooperation and sharing yielded no specific recommendations for closures, consolidations, or cost reductions but did identify barriers to sharing and increasing interagency reliance; and (5) NASA ability to reach its workforce reduction goal by 2000 is subject to some major uncertainties, and NASA may need to plan a reduction in force if enough employees do not retire or resign voluntarily.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Although the Congress is unlikely to mandate a process similar to the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission to reduce NASA infrastructure, there is interest on various congressional committees in exploring ways to reduce or coordinate the government's investment in, for example, NASA's and DOD's aerospace test facilities through the use of joint working groups or alliances.

    Matter: Given NASA limited progress to date, further opportunities to reduce infrastructure, and the agency's lack of control over some barriers to further reductions, Congress may wish to adopt the idea of having a process similar to the one used by the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission if NASA efforts fail to show significant progress in the near future in consolidating and closing facilities.


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