NASA Procurement:

Contract Management Oversight

NSIAD-97-114R: Published: Mar 18, 1997. Publicly Released: Mar 18, 1997.

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GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) approach to monitoring, measuring, and validating its progress in improving contract management, focusing on the extent to which NASA's oversight processes ensure that contract management weaknesses are identified and promptly corrected.

GAO noted that: (1) NASA acknowledged that its procurement self-assessment process could be improved and that some field centers could benefit from additional direction; (2) NASA stated that it would issue additional guidance on self-assessments and that its procurement management survey teams would review the centers' processes for conducting self-assessments; (3) if properly implemented, the planned changes described by NASA should help improve its field centers' procurement self-assessments; (4) NASA selected four performance measures in response to an Office of Management and Budget request for the identification of procurement performance measures that ultimately are to be used in implementing the Government Performance and Results Act; (5) the four performance measures are the extent of competition in NASA procurement, the average time required to award NASA contracts, the extent to which NASA has had contractors perform additional work before negotiating a price adjustment, and progress towards implementing performance-based contracting agencywide; (6) NASA has used the first three measures for several years; (7) these performance measurements indicate that NASA has been making progress, but that further opportunities for improvement exist agencywide or at specific centers; (8) NASA devotes substantial resources to gathering and reporting procurement information; (9) two years ago, Goddard Space Flight Center identified its procurement data system as a "workload driver" because of the extensive resources needed to maintain the system and to enter and ensure that data were reasonably accurate; (10) Goddard cited several reasons for the problems in this system, including the lack of common internal controls across the various procurement groups at the center; (11) NASA believes that its planned integrated financial management system will help address the data problems at Goddard and throughout the agency; (12) the system is being designed to collect and retrieve past and current financial, program, and related performance data for analysis, decisionmaking, and performance reporting by managers at all levels; (13) NASA projects that core finance, budget, executive information system, and procurement components of the new system will be operating agencywide by July 1, 1999; and (14) GAO's judgment on removing NASA contract management from the Comptroller General's high-risk list will be largely based on the processes and systems NASA uses to assess and oversee its procurement activities and their capability to consistently produce accurate and reliable information.

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