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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plans to invest billions in the coming years in science and exploration space fl ight initiatives. The scientifi c and technical complexities inherent in NASA's mission create great challenges in managing its projects and controlling costs. In the past, NASA has had diffi culty meeting cost, schedule, and performance objectives for many of its projects. The need to effectively manage projects will gain even more importance as NASA seeks to manage its wide-ranging portfolio in an increasingly constrained fi scal environment. This report provides an independent assessment of selected NASA projects. In conducting this work, GAO compared projects against best practice criteria for system development including attainment of knowledge on technologies and design. GAO also identifi ed other programmatic challenges that were contributing factors in cost and schedule growth of the projects reviewed. The projects assessed are considered major acquisitions by NASA--each with a life-cycle cost of over $250 million. No recommendations are provided in this report; however, GAO has reported extensively and made recommendations on NASA acquisition management in the past. GAO has designated NASA's acquisition management as a high risk area since 1990.

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