Cost Overrun on the Aeropropulsion Systems Test Facility

PLRD-82-123: Published: Sep 30, 1982. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1982.

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GAO reviewed the reasons for the cost overrun on the Aeropropulsion Systems Test Facility (ASTF) construction process and discussed the construction of the Space Transportation System (STS) support facilities with Air Force and Army Corps of Engineers officials to determine whether the design responsibilities for these facilities were split between the Air Force and the Corps in ways similar to the ways in which they were split on the ASTF.

The ASTF was supposedly fully funded at $437 million in 1977 but, since that time, it has experienced a significant cost overrun, estimated at $138.4 million. The Air Force entered into the construction contract with a design that was not well suited to its revised procurement plan which provided for two concurrent procurements, one for construction and the other for the acquisition of equipment. Some of the equipment used created facility interface problems and required modification of the original design. In addition, the concurrent procurement resulted in numerous design omissions. While the Corps, as construction agent, performed a constructibility review, it was not funded to perform a design review. Inadequate management also contributed to the overrun. Project progress monitoring was lax and this delayed recognition of the extent of the equipment interface problem and its effect on the project. If properly implemented, proposed Air Force policy and management changes should enable the Air Force to better control large, complex projects such as the ASTF. The management responsibilities for the design of the ASTF and STS projects are similarly divided between the Air Force and the Corps. However, unlike the ASTF, the STS support facilities do not have Government-furnished equipment. Therefore, the ASTF design problems due to interface requirements will not occur on the STS project.

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