Priority Open Recommendations: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

GAO-20-526PR Published: Apr 23, 2020. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 2020.
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Fast Facts

Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help improve the federal government. We alert department heads to the recommendations where they can save the most money, address issues on our High Risk List, or significantly improve government operations.

This report outlines our 12 priority open recommendations for NASA as of April 2020.

For example, we recommended that NASA develop a complete cost estimate for Artemis III—its upcoming lunar landing mission.

Since our previous letter in March 2019, NASA implemented 1 of our priority recommendations.

NASA priority recommendation graphic

NASA priority recommendation graphic

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What GAO Found

In April 2019, GAO identified 9 priority recommendations for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Since then, NASA has implemented 1 of those recommendations by coordinating with other agencies to standardize administrative research requirements. However, GAO closed a second recommendation as not implemented. NASA took some steps towards addressing this recommendation, such as assessing opportunities for competition for future variants of the Space Launch System (SLS). However, NASA did not provide Congress with a comprehensive assessment of the extent to which development and production of future elements of the SLS could be competitively procured.

In April 2020, GAO identified 5 additional priority recommendations for NASA, bringing the total number to 12. These recommendations involve the following areas:

  • monitoring program costs and execution.
  • ensuring cybersecurity.

NASA's continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations.

Why GAO Did This Study

Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015 GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations.

For more information, contact Michele Mackin at (202) 512-4841 or

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