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Highlights

Since 1990, GAO has designated the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) contract management as an area of high risk in part because it lacked modern systems to provide accurate and reliable information on contract spending. In April 2000, NASA began a system modernization effort, known as the Integrated Enterprise Management Program (IEMP). When GAO last reported on the status of IEMP in September 2005, NASA had begun to implement disciplined processes needed to manage IEMP, but had yet to implement other best practices such as adopting business processes that improve information on contract spending. This GAO report addresses (1) actions taken by NASA to effectively implement the disciplined processes needed to manage IEMP and (2) the extent to which NASA has considered the strategic issues associated with developing a concept of operations and defining standard business processes. GAO interviewed NASA officials and obtained and analyzed documentation relevant to the issues.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
National Aeronautics and Space Administration To help ensure that disciplined processes are effectively implemented for future IEMP modules, upgrades, or other business systems, the NASA Administrator should direct the IEMP Program Director to establish requirements development policies and procedures regarding (1) how customer needs will be elicited, developed, and validated; (2) how to identify and ensure the involvement of relevant stakeholders; and (3) required training in such topics as requirements definition and analysis to be provided to people involved in the requirements process.
Closed - Implemented
In September 2007, NASA established the Management/Business Systems Integration Group (M/BSIG), which is comprised of representatives from key organizations associated with and affected by NASA's business systems, to assess business systems gaps, prioritize business system requirements, and make recommendations to senior management based on an agencywide integrated perspective. In December 2007, NASA developed and issued its Needs and Requirements Identification Framework to provide guidance for eliciting and refining business system gaps, needs and high level requirements and to define the process for prioritizing agencywide business system investment decisions. In addition, NASA implemented an Agile scrum development process, which allows for formal stakeholder review and feedback at the end of each development iteration, as well as training on Agile development methodology and requirements management.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration To help ensure that disciplined processes are effectively implemented for future IEMP modules, upgrades, or other business systems, the NASA Administrator should direct the IEMP Program Director to develop policies and procedures that require project schedules to include the identification and documentation of dependencies among various project tasks.
Closed - Implemented
In February 2010, NASA established scheduling requirements in its NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR) 7120.5, NASA Space Flight Program and Project Management Requirements and, in March 2011, provided guidance in its Schedule Management Handbook for administering and satisfying the scheduling requirements set forth in NPR 7120.5. Based on these documents, NASA's recommended approach to managing project schedules includes developing an integrated master schedule using inter-project linking capabilities in the scheduling software tool to identify, document, and logically connect the dependencies among all project work elements. Further, as part of its Agile scrum development process, NASA continuously assesses resource requirements, including the identification and documentation of dependencies among project tasks, and build such requirements into project schedules.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration To help ensure that future IEMP projects are designed to carry out NASA's mission in an efficient manner that meets the needs of all users, the NASA Administrator should establish as a high priority the completion of a concept of operations that addresses NASA's business operations for both its mission offices and administrative offices (such as financial management and human capital) before any new implementation efforts begin.
Closed - Implemented
In October 2008, NASA finalized a concept of operations for its business systems, which describes key elements as defined by the IEEE standards, such as major system components and interfaces to external systems, and provides the foundation to support strategic, operational, and design decisions regarding agencywide business system investments. In addition, NASA's concept of operations addresses both mission and mission support needs for business services, such as finance, human capital, procurement, etc. A concept of operations should help ensure that future IEMP projects are designed to carry out NASA's mission in an efficient manner that meets the needs of all users.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration Once the concept of operations is complete, the NASA Administrator should review the functionality of previously implemented IEMP modules for the purpose of determining whether enhancements or modifications are needed to bring them into compliance with the concept of operations.
Closed - Implemented
In September 2007, NASA established the Management/Business Systems Integration Group (M/BSIG), which provides for annual reviews of business systems gaps and prioritizing resolution of those gaps from an agencywide perspective to ensure that it is using its limited resources on the highest priority items. As part of this process, NASA was to review the functionality of previously implemented Integrated Enterprise Management Program (IEMP) modules to determine whether enhancements and/or modifications are necessary to bring them into compliance with the concept of operations. For example, in 2009, one of NASA's components identified a gap regarding the lack of an agency emergency notification system. NASA prioritized and ranked this gap as one of its top three needs, and therefore, authorized funding to enhance the IEMP functionality to include this feature.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration To help ensure that NASA receives the maximum benefit from its reported $800 million investment in IEMP, the NASA Administrator should establish policies and procedures requiring approval to establish or maintain business processes that are inconsistent with the processes inherent in the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions selected for IEMP. The reasons for any decisions made to not implement the inherent COTS processes should be well-documented and approved by the Administrator or his designee. At a minimum, approved documentation should address any decisions to maintain current contractor cost reporting processes rather than revise these processes to facilitate the use of one consistent source of cost data.
Closed - Implemented
According to NASA officials, all new system implementations and major upgrades/modifications require a business case to evaluate feasible alternatives for meeting identified requirements. Business cases are reviewed by the Management/Business Systems Integration Group (M/BSIG) and the IT Strategy and Investment Board (SIB) prior to submission to senior leadership for approval. In addition, NASA has formed a team to develop new policies and processes for contractor cost reporting. Further, this system has been in place for several years and NASA has recently received clean financial statement audit opinions. Based on the cumulative actions taken, we believe that NASA has addressed the intent of our recommendation.

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