The Space Shuttle Program is currently supported by over 1,500 active suppliers, some of whom are the only known or certified source of a particular material, part or service. The retirement of the Shuttle and transition to planned exploration activities, as called for in the President's Vision for Space Exploration, creates the need for NASA to begin making decisions today about its supplier base needs for the future. GAO was asked to (1) describe NASA's plans and processes for managing its supplier base through the Shuttle's retirement and the transition to the Constellation's exploration activities; (2) address factors that could impact the effectiveness of those plans and processes; and (3) identify any other issues that NASA will likely encounter as the agency transitions to and implements the Constellation Program.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|National Aeronautics and Space Administration||Given the fact that many of NASA's transition and retirement activities will continue to occur following the Shuttle retirement in 2010, it is important that NASA identify and estimate the costs associated with these activities in an accountable and transparent manner. Therefore, the NASA Administrator should direct the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate and Space Operations Mission Directorate to jointly develop cost estimates for transition and retirement activities beyond fiscal year 2010 so that, in NASA's fiscal year 2009 budget submission, NASA can include transition and retirement funding needs for the required out-years through fiscal year 2013. We would expect these estimates to be adjusted every year and have more fidelity as NASA gains more knowledge and makes more decisions.|