NASA's Customer Satisfaction Measurements

NSIAD-97-81R: Published: Feb 12, 1997. Publicly Released: Feb 12, 1997.

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Louis J. Rodrigues
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GAO reviewed the extent to which managers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are using performance measurements, focusing on: (1) the implementation by NASA functional managers of requirements to develop and maintain measurements on customer satisfaction; and (2) NASA managers' efforts to collect customer satisfaction data.

GAO noted that: (1) since 1993, NASA has required its functional managers at headquarters, in collaboration with center officials, to develop and maintain agencywide measurements on customer satisfaction; (2) although almost all NASA functional managers were aware of this requirement, GAO's review indicated that half of the functional areas had no formal mechanisms in place to collect data on customer satisfaction and several managers indicated that they had no plans to do so; (3) moreover, most managers do not receive customer satisfaction data from centers or consolidate it in a systematic way to monitor agencywide levels and trends or to compare centers' performance; (4) the reasons managers gave for not formally collecting the required data on customer satisfaction included: (a) the customer could not be identified; (b) customer satisfaction measurements cannot be developed for the type of work being performed, are inappropriate, or not useful; (c) managers were not aware of the requirement; and (d) formal customer satisfaction measurements are not needed because of frequent communication with customers in person, by telephone, or electronic mail; (5) some headquarters managers believe that only the centers are responsible for collecting and evaluating customer satisfaction data because the centers are responsible for executing the work; (6) generally, headquarters managers in functional areas where customer satisfaction data is being collected told GAO that they found the data to be useful; (7) other managers, however, questioned the cost-effectiveness and usefulness of the data they collected on customer satisfaction; and (8) NASA headquarters officials told GAO that as part of NASA's broader strategic planning process, NASA is developing or has issued guidance that may substantially revise or totally replace existing guidance that called for measuring customer satisfaction.

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